The US military conducted a surveillance mission over the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) last Saturday led by its Pacific Fleet chief, despite rising tension over the territory.
Reports said Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Scott Swift led the seven-hour mission on board a P-8A Poseidon plane, America’s newest spy plane, to witness first-hand the full range of the aircraft’s capabilities.
Military officials however did not provide further details regarding the surveillance mission.
While the P-8A Poseidon was used for surveillance for the mission, the Boeing aircraft is also capable of anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and reconnaissance.
A Morning News report said that prior to Poseidon’s mission, US warships USS Fort Worth and USS Lassen had been deployed to West Philippine Sea for naval exercises.
The local Navy’s Vice Adm. Alexander Lopez said the US warplane’s recent surveillance mission is beneficial to the country and to the region.
“It’s good for us. It’s a way to monitor what the Chinese are doing in our backyard. It’s good for the region,” Lopez said in a report.
Meanwhile China’s state-run media outlet Global Times called the latest military operation by US “provocative,” adding that four littoral compass ships will be deployed in the disputed territory.
Beijing’s Defense Ministry said that it “resolutely opposed” Poseidon’s surveillance mission in the West Philippine Sea.
“For a long time, U.S. military ships and aircraft have carried out frequent, widespread, close-in surveillance of China, seriously harming bilateral mutual trust and China’s security interests which could easily cause an accident at sea or in the air,” the defense department said in a report.
China, along with the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia are claiming most of the West Philippine Sea which is believed to be rich in mineral resources.
The Philippines have raised concerns over Chinese reclamation projects in the disputed territory. Reports said the reclamation projects are intended for the construction of a huge airstrip.