by WorldTribune Staff, July 28, 2017
Satellite images show that China may be gearing up to use its new military base in Djibouti as far more than just the naval logistics hub Beijing claims it to be, analysts say.
Other than a noticeable lack of docks at the facility, one feature that stood out in the images was a 250,000-square-foot underground bunker complex.
Related: China deploys troops to first overseas base at strategic site in Djibouti, July 13, 2017
The images were published by geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor and obtained via AllSource Analysis. The images showed the site as it existed on April 2 and July 4.
Stratfor reported that a portion of the underground part of the base likely includes hardened bunker areas for a command post and other sensitive operations spaces and has entrances that look large enough to drive vehicles in and out of.
The bunker affords “added protection against attacks and destructive environmental hazards, like sand and severe weather,” Stratfor noted, adding that Chinese personnel “could use the space to conduct a variety of activities discreetly, too.”
The satellite images also showed new 25-foot-wide walls, as well as guard posts and fences at what is China’s first overseas military base.
There’s likely to be more construction to come at the Djibouti base, Stratfor’s analysis said.
“Without its own docks in Djibouti, the PLA Navy will have to continue using the country’s commercial port facilities. Helicopters could ferry small loads back and forth from ships off shore, but it would be much less efficient than loading and unloading pier side.”
Docks would make the final configuration of the base considerably larger.
To accommodate the aircraft carrier Liaoning at its naval complex on Hainan Island, China built a new pier nearly 2,300 feet long, which made it the largest in the world.
“The Djibouti facility would need something similar if the flattop ever intended to tie up at the base proper,” Statfor said.