China's project of building a military base in the South China Sea is moving along smoothly and quickly.
Satellite photos released on Monday show China making extraordinary progress during construction of more than 24 hardened concrete hangars used for concealing fighter jets, strategic bombers, and refueling aircraft.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), other structures are emerging from satellite images as well.
In addition to the rapid construction of hangars and other air support infrastructure at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief reefs, other facilities have appeared on the features in recent months. Unidentified hexagonal structures are quickly being built at four locations on each islet—always oriented toward the sea.
“These hangars are the smoking gun. You do not build nearly 80 hangars for civilian purposes on these tiny spits of land They're clearly meant for forward deployment of Chinese Air Force assets,” Greg Poling, Director of CSIS' Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, told Fox News.
“They're holding a gun but they haven't put the bullet in it yet and they're saying that's not threatening,” he said.
Just one week ago, China conducted live fire exercises in the South China Sea to prepare for a "cruel and short" conflict. The drills included ships, submarines, and aircraft, illustrating China's growing emphasis on integrated training under realistic conditions. The Defense Ministry said the exercises were aimed at improving the "intensity, precision, stability and speed" of its military.
In July, Russia teamed up with the Chinese navy to conduct a joint training exercise in which the Defense Ministry insisted were only “routine” drills aimed at strengthening their relationship with Russia.