The United States on Monday agreed to station a P-8 Poseidon spy plane in Singapore for the first time amid heightened regression over China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea
The Pentagon released a joint press statement on Monday saying that US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Singaporean Minister for Defense Ng Eng Hen had agreed on the deployment.
According to a US defense official, more deployments are expected and could even be repeated every 3 months on a regular basis.
Currently, the US military is carrying out observation missions from Japanese and Philippine airfields and patrolling the South China Sea.
According to the agreement, the deployment will provide cooperation in terms of military activities and ensure backing for disaster relief. It is also meant to help deal with challenges as piracy and international terrorism.
The statement said the P8 deployment would "promote greater interoperability with regional militaries through participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises, while providing timely support for regional Humanitarian and Disaster Relief operation (HADR) and maritime security efforts."
In early April US President Barack Obama accused China of using its power to push around smaller nations in the South China Sea and advance its maritime claims.
China, hit back at the US allegations by accusing Vietnam, the Philippines and others of carrying out illegal building work in the disputed South China Sea.
In May the US dispatched a reconnaissance drone and a Seahawk helicopter to patrol the airspace above the South China Sea, while the USS Fort Worth, one of the most modern ships in the US navy, was sent to monitor the waters around the Spratly islands which China claims as its territory.
China’s efforts to strengthen its claims in the South China Sea intensified last year when Beijing began building seven artificial islands near the Spratly islands, despite the objections of other states in the region.
Last month Barack Obama called on countries to stop building artificial islands and militarising their claims in the South China Sea.
Obama stated in a meeting between the US and members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that "For the sake of regional stability, the claimants should halt reclamation, construction and militarisation of disputed areas."
He also said that the US would go on to defend its freedom of navigation.
China responded by saying it would build both military and civilian facilities on the islands.
China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, which is thought to be rich in oil and gas.