The Pentagon is planning to increase naval patrols in the South China Sea, setting a schedule for the first time that would challenge China’s maritime claims, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The Pacific Command plan calls for freedom-of-navigation operations — known as “fonops” in military parlance — two to three times over the next few months.
The schedule marks a departure from the ad hoc approach that’s been the norm, the Journal reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials.
There have been three patrols so far under President Donald Trump; there were a total of four during the administration of former President Barack Obama, the Journal reported.
Officials declined to disclose where and when the upcoming fonops would occur.
According to the Journal, some patrols may use not only Navy warships but military aircraft as well; on Aug. 10, the USS John McCain and an air component were used around Mischief