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Satellite Maps Show China Building Helicopter Base Facing Taiwan Strait | Taiwan News




TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A A military expert said on Friday March 12 that new satellite images appear to show that a helicopter base that could threaten Taiwan is being built in China’s Fujian Province.

Ho Cheng-hui () was cited by Taiwan news site like saying the base had not been reported before. He added that it could be seen as a product of Xi Jinping’s “desperate desire () to solve the Taiwan problem and expand the fighting power of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)”.

Ho suggested that the base was yet another challenge to the existing international order and that it was intended to disrupt the first defenses of the US island chain and “even directly challenge the US military.” He said the site can accommodate many military planes.

Satellite imagery is based on the work of a self-proclaimed open-source intelligence analyst on Twitter going by the handle @detresfa. On Thursday, March 11, he posted two satellite maps that he described as a “new helipad” in Zhangpu County, Fujian Province.

In a black-and-white photo to the left, an oblong apron and track are clearly visible, covering what he estimates to be 1,700 meters, as well as an area for administrative buildings. A close-up color photo on the right appears to show 10 helipads, a runway and at least three helicopters already positioned on the tarmac. He estimates that the runway is 600 meters long and has 27 hangars for airplanes.

Satellite maps show the construction of a helicopter base in China facing the Taiwan Strait
Maps showing a new base in Zhangpu County, Fujian. (Twitter, images @detresfa)

The open-source intelligence analyst told Taiwan News that based on his observations, work on the facility began in July 2019, which involved clearing vegetation and moving soil. He suggested that, given its strategic location, it could improve Army and Navy operations and allow easier surveillance of the Taiwan Strait.

He added that it could also support UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) operations, although no drones were seen. Judging from the fact that the runway, apron and helipads are already paved and painted, he believes the base is “nearing completion.”

Its satellite imagery sources include Sentinel-2 from the European Space Agency, Airbus Earth Observation and Google Earth. On Google Earth, there is what appears to be a large construction site.

Satellite maps show the construction of a helicopter base in China facing the Taiwan Strait
Land clearing has started but the airstrip is not yet visible. (Google Earth Image)

However, as the satellite images on Google Earth are one to three years old, what is currently visible on the platform does not necessarily reflect the current situation on the ground. A free version of Sentinel-2 reveals the contours of the airstrip, tarmac, helipads and administrative area.

The coordinates of the location are 24 ° 02’41.5 “N 117 ° 50’55.0” E. This puts it about 183 kilometers from Penghu and 386 kilometers from Taiwan’s Dongsha Islands (Pratas Islands).

Satellite maps show the construction of a helicopter base in China facing the Taiwan Strait
Outline of the air base visible from space. (Image Sentinel-2)

Military expert Ho Cheng-hui said that in addition to the base’s helicopters, the estimated runway length would be sufficient for fighter jets to take off and patrol the waters and airspace in southwest Taiwan. and the Dongsha Islands. “All of these are threatening and exerting pressure,” Ho said.

Satellite maps show the construction of a helicopter base in China facing the Taiwan Strait
The distance from the new base to Penghu is 183 km. (Google Earth Image)

Satellite maps show the construction of a helicopter base in China facing the Taiwan Strait

The distance between the new base and the Dongsha Islands is 386 km. (Google Earth Image)

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