The official Chinese media's broadcast of Chinese J-11B fighters entering a sealed hangar in the Xisha Islands showcases China's improving air and sea control of the South China Sea, a Chinese military expert said.
Footage aired by China Central Television (CCTV) on Wednesday for the first time confirmed deployment of the fighter aircraft in a hangar on Yongxing Island.
The footage was broadcast in a CCTV report on People's Liberation Army Air Force drills to improve its nautical combat capability.
Yongxing Island, the largest of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea, is also the seat of the Sansha city government of South China's Hainan Province.
With a 3-kilometer runway, the airport in Yongxing Island is an important dual-use airport in the South China Sea area, the CCTV report said.
The thermostabilized hangar boosts the jet fighters' durability and resistance to the island's humidity and high temperatures.
More importantly, the special hangar helps to realize regular deployment of fighter jets in the Xisha Islands, TV commentator Song Zhongping told the Global Times on Thursday.
"Other islands in China could also use such aircraft hangars and China's overall control of air and sea in the South China Sea would be greatly improved as well," Song said.
China will enhance its capability to safeguard its legal rights in the South China Sea through military and legal enforcement channels, Song noted. "Legal enforcement channel" means Chinese fighters intercepting foreign aircraft flying over the South China Sea, he said.
Two Chinese J-10 fighter jets intercepted a US Navy surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea in May, CNN news website reported.
China's Ministry of National Defense later said that the fighters were sent to identify the US warship, warn and expel it.