China continues to boost its aerial surveillance capabilities on its southern island of Hainan: a strategic location for military operations in the South China Sea. Commercial satellite imagery captured in February 2018 shows that two Guizhou Aviation Industry Group (GAIG) Xianglong ('Soaring Dragon') multirole high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been deployed to the Lingshui naval airbase.
This is the first time the multirole platform has been spotted on the island.
Hainan is the third known operational location for the Xianglong. Three of the UAVs have been seen operating from Shigatse airbase, which is located in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China near the disputed Doklam (also known as Dong Lang) tri-junction, since August 2017.
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