Dangerous Ground

Date Updated:
Sunday April 10, 2005

Below are pictures of the Spratley Islands as
well as Mischief reef . 
This should give you an idea of what the contested ground looks like.


Pagasa Island and Rancudo Airfield.

Pagasa island is
below taken from a PAF aircraft.


The picture above is of Pagasa
Island taken from a Philippine Air Force C-130 four years ago. It is also called
"Thitu" Island in international maps.  The air base is called Rancudo
Airfield – named after a PAF general who previously commanded the PAF.

It’s the largest
of the Spratly islands, excluding Spratly Island itself and is also the largest
island currently occupied by the Philippines. The runway is approximately 1290
meters long and 100 meters wide and is constructed from cement and crushed
coral.  The runway was originally developed
to include arresting gear to enable it to land F-8 Crusaders but this never came
to pass.  An F-8 detachment was however based on Palawan island 100 or so
miles to the east.

The Philippine government has
committed to improving the facilities on the island including paving the runway
for use in all weathers and constructing hangars and other support facilities to
base aircraft (OV-10s semi-permanently?).  Over the years, the Philippines
has also constructed concrete bunkers and gun emplacements on the island. 
It houses several anti-aircraft artillery (40mm Bofors) pieces as well as
several field artillery pieces  (M101A1 105mm howitzers).  AFP
personnel posted here receive "Loneliness" pay.

From this
perspective, it’s pretty impressive what the AFP has been able to do considering
the meager resources it has available. 

A radar image of Pag-asa taken from
a passing sattelite.

Scarborough Reef

The picture below was taken from a
Philippine Navy Islander and was provided by MC-5 of the
Philippine Marines.  With thanks.

Chinese structures on Mischief Reef taken from PAF
reconnaissance aircraft.  It is noteworthy that all this activity started
after the US left its bases in Luzon. 

Mischief Reef was a training live fire range used by both the PAF and US forces
prior to the Chinese moving in and asserting their claim.

Chinese Structures in the Spratley Islands

Spratley Islands Maps