The U.S. Navy has released video of a P-8A flight over China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea. Some of this video has been released via a CNN exclusive, but it also includes additional, stunning footage of aerial patrols in the Spratlys.  In these video clips, sailors assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 conduct flight operations aboard a P-8A Poseidon over the South China Sea. During the flight, the crew of the P-8A documented several warnings, issued by China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), to leave the area.

A handwritten transcript shown by one of the communications officers in the video reads:

Chinese facility: “Foreign military airplane you are approaching my military secure … please go away quickly in order to (indiscernable)… Station calling U.S. military aircraft, please identify yourself.”

P-8A Poseidon: “I am a United States military aircraft conducting lawful military activities acting outside national airspace. I am with due regard in accordance with international law.”

The mission documented the continued expansion of reefs which have been turned into man-made islands with airport infrastructure in the South China Sea. Dozens of dredgers and naval craft are visible operating within the lagoons and harbors of Subi Reef, Mischief Reef, and Fiery Cross Reef. VP-45 is on deployment supporting U.S. 7th Fleet operations in the Pacific.

Video 1: Takeoff from Clark Air Base (Luzon Island, Philippines), patrol around Subi Reef, Mischief Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, and others. (6:46)

Video 2: Patrol footage from cabin, communications with China, views of dredging, concrete production, and airstrip construction at Fiery Cross reef. (10:48)

About AMTI Leadership

Dr. Michael Green is senior vice president for Asia and Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Executive Advisor to AMTI. Gregory B. Poling is a senior fellow for Southeast Asia and director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at CSIS.