US & Philippines planning deploying Rockets in South China Sea to deter Beijing

The US and the Philippines discussed the placement of an upgraded rocket system in the South China Sea to defend against Chinese expansion in the disputed islands, the South China Morning Post reported.

Regional experts told the Post that Manila and Washington discussed the deployment of a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) system which would be able to launch long-range, precision-guided rockets at a Chinese presence in the Spratly Islands, a cluster of disputed islands in the sea.

China has been steadily increasing its presence in the South China Sea, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, and has reportedly reclaimed more than 2,900 acres of land since 2013.

The Lockheed Martin rocket system would be able to launch long-range, precision-guided rockets which could strike a Chinese presence in the Spratly Islands, an expert told the Post. The Spratly Islands are a disputed cluster of islands, reefs, and atolls located close to the centre of the South China Sea.

China has been steadily increasing its military presence in the South China Sea, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, in recent years. According to a Defense Department report, Beijing has reclaimed more than 2,900 acres of land since 2013.

Satellite images also show increased activity on several reefs in the Spratly Islands, including reported helipads, airstrips, and radar structures, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

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