China has installed equipment on two of its fortified outposts in the Spratly Islands capable of jamming communications and radar systems, U.S. officials say.
Electronic jamming is a form of electronic warfare where jammers radiate interfering signals toward an enemy’s radar, blocking the receiver with highly concentrated energy signals.
According to U.S. intelligence, the new jamming equipment was deployed on Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef.
“While China has maintained that the construction of the islands is to ensure safety at sea, navigation assistance, search and rescue, fisheries protection and other nonmilitary functions, electronic-jamming equipment is only for military use,” US Official said.
The disclosure comes as the Chinese military conduct massive military drills in the South China Sea, maneuvers that include China’s first aircraft carrier as well as air force and ground units.
China claims “indisputable” sovereignty over all South China Sea islands and their adjacent waters.
China says its island-building is for defensive purposes only, but the activity has provoked fears that it could use the outposts to enforce territorial claims that overlap with those of Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, as well as the Philippines, which is a U.S. treaty ally.
As of now, China has three outposts in the Spratly Islands; Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef, and Subi Reef now have 10,000-foot runways, hangars for fighter jets, ammunition bunkers, barracks and piers for warships.