|An unpainted GX-6/Y-8Q during testing (File Photo)|
By: Mike Yeo
MELBOURNE, Australia — China has deployed its newest anti-submarine aircraft and stepped up unmanned aircraft deployments to Hainan island on the fringes of the South China Sea, according to satellite imagery obtained by Defense News.
Satellite photos taken on May 10 and May 20 by commercial satellite imagery company DigitalGlobe showed four Shaanxi Y-8Q turboprop aircraft with its distinctive magnetic anomaly detector boom parked on the ground at Lingshui Air Base in the southeastern part of China’s Hainan island.
The satellite pass from May 10 also showed three Harbin BZK-005 high-altitude, long-range UAVs at the base. This is the largest number of BZK-005s to have been seen at Lingshui since they were first noted in 2016. The drones have also previously been observed at the Chinese air base at nearby Woody Island, in the disputed Paracel Islands.
|A KJ-500 AEW&C Aircraft (File Photo)|
In addition, two KJ-500 airborne early warning aircraft were also seen at Lingshui on both occasions. Defense News had previously reported on the deployment of the KJ-500 to Hainan at nearby Jialaishi Air Base that had been seen on satellite photos taken in March, which was the first time the KJ-500 had been seen deployed by the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN.
This is the first time the Y-8Q has been seen at Hainan, with China having previously rotationally deployed maritime patrol aircraft detachments to Lingshui, made up of a mixture of older Y-8Js and Y-8Xs drawn from the PLAN's two special-mission aircraft regiments based in northern China.
Read the full story at DefenseNews