Want China Times
By: Staff Reporter
Taiping, the largest natural island in the disputed South China Sea’s Spratly island chain,
could be used as a staging base by the Republic of China Air Force’s fighters and maritime patrol aircraft for any potential conflict in the region, according to a report by the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The Spratlys are the most contested island group in the South China Sea, claimed in whole or in part by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. Taiwan exercises control over Taiping, which is no longer the largest island in the chain due to Chinese land reclamation activities. It is garrisoned by coast guard officers.
With a flying radius of 960 kilometers, the ROC Air Force’s P-3C patrol aircraft can carry out reconnaissance operations over southern and central China. Like the Air Force’s F-16 fighter and C-130 cargo plane, the P-3C is capable of landing on the 1,195-metre long airstrip built on Taiping, according to the report. [FULL STORY]