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Asia Minute: Singapore Agrees to Deployment of U.S. Spy Plane

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One of the most advanced surveillance planes in the United States is now in Singapore. The Poseidon P-8 spy plane arrived this week, and it’s part of a broader strategy involving the South China Sea. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

For the cutting edge spy plane in the US military, the P-8 Poseidon looks deceiving.  There’s no sleek radar-evading design like the distinctive Stealth fighter.  It doesn’t have the dramatic look of the high-altitude SR-71 Blackbird of decades past.

The P-8 looks a lot like a Boeing 737 - in fact, it’s made by Boeing.  But this plane is used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.  The Navy says it can also conduct attacks on ships and submarines, coordinate with Triton drones, fire missiles, drop bombs and perform other functions.

The planes routinely fly missions out of Japan and the Philippines.  Two are in rotation through military facilities at K?ne‘ohe Bay.  They also fly over the South China Sea - including areas claimed by China and disputed by other countries.

This week marked the first deployment of the P-8 Poseidon to Singapore.  It’s part of a broader defense cooperation agreement the two countries signed this week in Washington.  Reaction from China was quick.  A foreign ministry spokeswoman said increasing the US military presence “does not conform to the common and long-term interests among the regional countries.”  China’s defense ministry released a statement saying in part, “we are paying close attention to how the relevant situation develops.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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