SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China's air force has deployed bombers on islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of an exercise in the disputed region, a statement said.
"A Partition of the People's Liberation The Army Air Force (PLAAF) recently organized several bombers, such as the H-6K, to conduct a take-off and landing training on islands and reefs in the South China Sea to improve our capability, "to reach every area and strike at any time." and strike in all directions, "it said in the statement released on Friday.
The pilot of the H-6K bomber was said to have carried out an attack training on a particular sea target and then carried out take-offs and landings at an airport in the area, describing the exercise as a preparation for "the Western Pacific and the battle for the South China Sea ".
The notice, posted on the Weibo microblogging account of the PLAAF, did not give the exact location of the exercise.  The United States has dispatched warships to disputed areas of the South China Sea to challenge China's extensive sovereignty claims in the area, which is subject to various claims from China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.
"The United States remains committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan told Reuters.
"We have seen the same reports and China's ongoing militarization of the controversial features in the South China Sea only serves to increase tension and destabilize the region."
(Reporting by David Stanway and Winni Zhou; Additional coverage by Phil Stewart in Washington, edited by Kim Coghill)