• Yulin Naval Base

Yulin Naval Base (Photo : Getty Images)

According to a Defense News report, the deployment of multiple missile launchers was seen in the satellite images of China's South Korea base. Observers believe that the launchers are for anti-ship ballistic missiles.

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“The direction in which the launchers are facing leads us to believe these are shore-to-ship missiles,” said Amit Gur, an analyst at ImageSat International (ISI) imagery.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island in the South China Sea is a vital submarine base for the South Fleet and contains China’s nuclear submarines. It also houses a sizeable collection of surface ships.

China has been boosting its defenses for this particular base, the tip of the spear for projecting Chinese power into the disputed South China Sea.

Two years ago, systems comparable to those shown in the latest satellite imagery were observed. They vanished a few months ago and have recently resurfaced. Satellite images taken on March 15 display empty platforms, but images from May 8 reveal supposed shore-to-ship missile launchers.

ISI is uncertain whether the assumed missile launchers, situated on the western side of the base, are the original systems or new weapons system.

According to ISI spokesman Gil Or, ISI spotted on the eastern side of the base “infrastructure that wasn’t there before and what looks like preparations for shore-to-ship missiles, just like on the western side.”

China’s anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities may be fortified with the addition of new anti-missile systems.

The advancements in the defensive military outposts located in the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands have also increased Chinese presence in the South China Sea, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said.

The Trump administration is expected to object China’s maritime claims, which are contested due to freedom-of-navigation operations. The Navy, however, has reaffirmed its commitment to freedom of navigation and said that it will perform the pertinent operations sometime soon.

What appears to be fortification on China's South Korea base will strengthen the presence of the country in the disputed South China Sea territory.