December 22, 2008: New Google Earth images of China,
show underground hangers for aircraft at an airport outside the city of Le
Dong, on the southern island of Hainan (near Vietnam). For over two years now,
commercial satellite photos have been revealing details of a military buildup
on Hainan. The most obvious example of this is the submarine base that China
was building at Yulin, near Sanya. The base has underground docking facilities
for nuclear and diesel-electric subs, created by tunneling into coastal hills.
Rumors of such a base have been circulating for the
past six years, apparently since locals began noticing all the construction
activity, and the tight security around the site. The underground facilities
not only protect the boats from air or sea based attack, but enable maintenance
and modifications to be done in secret. Same deal with the airport tunnels,
which are also visible to anyone passing by on the ground. But there's nothing
as compelling as pictures.