2011-06-15 (China Military News cited from http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=696267&publicationSubCategoryId=63″>Philippine Star and written by DJ Sta. Ana) — Should a shooting war break out over the disputed Spratly Islands, China could easily achieve air and sea superiority due to the increased focus Beijing has given to improving its force projection capabilities in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea.
According to documents obtained by News5, China gradually developed its facilities on Woody Island in the Paracel Islands – making it an unsinkable aircraft carrier. The runway on Woody Island has been extended and hangars and fuel depots have been constructed, which enable China to base and deploy its latest generation of multi-role fighters.
From Woody Island, China will have no problem sending its warplanes to the Spratlys as this is well within the operational radius of its fighters. China’s multi-role fighters can reach as far Metro Manila.
Apart from the unsinkable aircraft carrier, China is scheduled to start sea trials of its first aircraft carrier, the Shi Lang.
Apart from China and the Philippines, the other claimants of the Spratlys are Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam. The Spratlys are believed to have huge deposits of oil, natural gas and minerals and is also considered a major fishing area.
The Paracel Islands are being disputed by China and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said defense modernization remains one of the priorities of the Aquino administration but stresses that they cannot just go on a shopping spree. In an interview with News5, the defense secretary admitted that internal security still had top priority even if the peace talks are ongoing with the communist insurgents and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Gazmin said they have adopted the process which they termed the “Defense System of Management.” He explained they are balancing the needs and requirements with the government’s capability to fund these.
“Our number 1 problem is the internal security operations,” Gazmin told News5 in an interview prior to the reports of Chinese intrusions. “The equipment needed to address internal security operations are a priority.”
“We do not need jets, we need helicopters, transports … with endurance in air. In the navy, you don’t need blue water equipment – what you need is for island, transport and for use in flood and earthquake,” he added.