Recent satellite photographs show China appears to have built reinforced aircraft hangars on its holdings in the disputed South China Sea, NBC News reports.
Pictures taken in late July show the hangars constructed on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs in the Spratly islands have room for any fighter jet in the Chinese air force, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said in its recent report.
There is no evidence that Beijing has deployed military aircraft to these outposts apart from a brief visit by a military transport plane earlier this year, but the report suggests that could soon change.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims.