US Navy blast China fishing boat

(STL.News) The Chinese Navy, formally known as the Liberation Army Navy, conducted a live-fire exercise several days ago over the South China Sea utilizing a newly expanded naval base.  Harbin Z-9 helicopters took off from a base at Sanya on the southern tip of Hainan and fired anti-ship missiles at simulated targets.  The Z-9, a license-built variant of the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, is a standard shipboard helicopter the PLAN flies.  The exercise itself sends a signal, but the base from which the helicopters took off is crucial.  The base has been massively improved over the past year.

The South China Sea is a strategically important and hotly contested region.  China claims virtually all of it and has been strengthening its navy’s bases in the region.  The airbase is not the only facility that could make a difference in the balance of power in the region.  China is also working to strengthen the aircraft carrier base a few miles along the coast.

YouTube video provided courtesy of ARMED BN

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