US reconnaissance patrol to challenge China in the East Sea
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US reconnaissance patrol to challenge China in the East Sea

The P-8A Poseidon aircraft performed a patrol on August 10.

One by one, crew members and CNN reporters dropped their cell phones into a large black bag, before boarding the P-8A Poseidon patrol plane at Kadena base, Japan on October 10.

This black bag called `Faraday bag` will prevent all signals from reaching mobile phones, because they are about to make an 8-hour journey to fly over and monitor China’s illegal militarization activities on the planet.

The P-8A Poseidon is the newest submarine hunting reconnaissance aircraft in the US Navy, designed based on the Boeing 737 airframe, the most popular passenger aircraft in the world.

From the outside, the P-8A’s highlight is a large window on each side of the fuselage, instead of a row of small windows on the Boeing 737 passenger aircraft. Lieutenant Colonel Chris Purcell, commander of Patrol Squadron 4

These weapons include Harpoon anti-ship missiles and Mark 54 torpedoes. Along with dozens of sonar buoys, the Poseidon can track and sink any enemy submarine.

Before the plane took off, a US Navy navigator outlined safety regulations on the flight, showing reporters where to keep life jackets in the rear cabinet of the plane, as well as boxes containing inflatable boats in case of emergency.

`There will be no slide at the emergency exit. Just climb up on the wing and jump into the sea,` the navigator said.

The reporters and most of the P-8 crew members wore seat belts and sat facing the back when the plane took off.

US reconnaissance patrol to challenge China in the East Sea

Members of the combat team on the P-8A.

The combat team members simultaneously turned to the right with military precision to turn on sensors and video surveillance devices immediately after the pilot announced a successful takeoff.

Follow the Chinese navy

The combat team consists of four men and one woman sitting in a row in front of large surveillance screens on the left side of the aircraft, each holding a mouse and a joystick.

Commercial ships are easily identified by name, but military ships are much more difficult to identify.

That was just one of many Chinese warships that the P-8 discovered during its patrol.

As the Poseidon approached Subi Reef, reporters flocked to the windows to watch as the plane circled the artificial island China had illegally built below.

US reconnaissance patrol to challenge China in the East Sea

Six times China chased away US aircraft approaching illegal artificial islands in the East Sea

China’s illegal reclamation and militarization of artificial islands seen from US reconnaissance.

Reporters have seen many satellite images of China’s illegal reclamation of this artificial island over the past three years, but are still surprised by the level of reclamation and militarization that China has done to this entity.

`This is an anti-aircraft missile site,` Lieutenant Callen pointed to a location on the surveillance screen.

However, reporters did not see many people present on this artificial island, as if it were a ghost town.

However, they continuously received radio warnings from the Chinese navy, asking US aircraft to stay away from the area to avoid `unfortunate misunderstandings`.

When the P-8 approached Fiery Cross Reef, the camera on the plane captured images of about 10 Chinese vehicles running on the runway on the artificial island.

US reconnaissance patrol to challenge China in the East Sea

Chinese structures are illegally built on illegal artificial islands in Truong Sa.

Midway through the journey, reporters and crew members were served rigatoni pasta, dumplings and garlic butter bread, which was considered more delicious than any meal that US civil airlines usually eat.

The plane then circled around Mischief Reef, the last large artificial island China built illegally on its patrol, before turning north to return to Kadena base.

The combat team compiled the images recorded during the flight, discussed to see if they missed any details and what additional information needed to be analyzed, before handing over the collected data to US naval intelligence.

When the plane landed at Kadena base, at least one other P-8 was running, seemingly about to depart or just returning from a patrol.

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