China appears to have built significant point-defense capabilities, in the form of large anti-aircraft guns and probable close-in weapons systems (CIWS), at each of its outposts in the Spratly Islands. AMTI began tracking the construction of identical, hexagon-shaped structures at Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs in June and July. It now seems that these structures are an evolution of point-defense fortifications already constructed at China’s smaller facilities on Gaven, Hughes, Johnson, and Cuarteron Reefs.
China has installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies said its findings come despite statements by the Chinese leadership that Beijing has no intention to militarize the islands in the strategic trade route, where territory is claimed by several countries.
AMTI said it had been tracking construction of hexagonal structures on Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi reefs in the Spratly Islands since June and July. China has already built military length airstrips on these islands.
China has built nearly identical headquarters buildings at each of its four smaller artificial islands. The two smallest of the islets, Hughes and Gaven Reefs, feature four arms built off of these central structures. The end of each of these arms sports a hexagonal platform, approximately 30 feet wide. The northeastern and southwestern arms host what are most likely anti-aircraft guns (roughly 20 feet long when measured to the tip of the barrel). The other two platforms hold smaller (roughly 10-foot-wide) objects without clearly visible barrels. These cannot be definitively identified, but are likely CIWS to protect against cruise missile strikes