Air Platforms

China deploys aerostat in South China Sea

02 December 2019

A satellite image shows that an unmanned, tethered aerostat has been deployed to Mischief Reef, one of the largest of the artificial islands constructed by China amongst the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The image, which was captured on 18 November, was sourced by ImageSat International (ISI).

The aerostat is likely to be carrying a radar and its elevated position would significantly extend the radar horizon and therefore increase the area that can be monitored, particularly for surface vessels.

China has been developing aerostats for military use for about 20 years, although the type deployed to Mischief Reef cannot be positively identified.

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