Subi Reef Tracker

This gallery covers Chinese development at Subi Reef, located in the Northern Spratly islands.

Featured Facts

What's on Subi Reef right now?


Square meters reclaimed

Access channel 230 meters wide

Temporary Loading Piers x 11

Potential 3000m airstrip

Large multi-level facility with existing structure

Possible satellite communication antennas x7

Possible security and surveillance tower with radome

Reinforced seawalls


Preexisting military facility

Concrete plant x3

Subi Reef was occupied by the PRC during its 1988 push to increase its footprint in the South China Sea. It has remained China’s northernmost outpost in the Spratly Island grouping since then. The reef is 25 kilometers (km) from Philippine civilian populations and 14km from the Thitu Reef cluster occupied by the Philippines.

The entire Subi reef feature is diamond shaped, measuring 6.9km on the longer axis and 5km along the shorter axis. It surrounds a lagoon measuring 3.5km at its maximum width. In its natural state, the reef is submerged at high tide, with some breakers breaking the surface at low tide. IHS Jane’s reports that China began construction on Subi and Cuateron Reefs in the early 1990s. In 1997, the reef had two wooden barracks, a satellite communications antennae and a helicopter pad. In 2010, reports of a lighthouse emerged followed in 2011 construction, which included a 20m diameter dome. The Philippines reported the upgraded facilities probably including radar equipment.

The PRC began land reclamation on Subi in July 2014. While it appears that the first air strip is being laid at Fiery Cross Reef, IHS Jane’s has estimated that if reclamation at Subi continues it will also provide an adequate base for another air strip. Reports have emerged that the current facilities house up to 200 troops.

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