WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The United States deployed a P-8 Poseidon spy aircraft to Singapore for the first time, the latest response by the U.S. military against China's territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The plane will participate in military exercises with the Singapore Air Force and will remain in Singapore until next Monday. The United States already operates P-8 Poseidon planes from Japan and the Philippines, and some surveillance flights have taken off from Malaysia.
The plane will also support maritime security as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.
The U.S. military said it will also later base a military reconnaissance plane, either a P-8 Poseidon or a P-3 Orion, in Singapore's Paya Lebar Air Base. Planes will be rotated on a quarterly basis.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter met with Singaporean Minister of Defense Ng Eng Hen on Monday in the Pentagon to sign an enhanced defense cooperation agreement, also known as a DCA.
"Under the enhanced DCA, both sides agreed on a broad framework for defense cooperation in five key areas, namely in the military, policy, strategic and technology spheres, as well as cooperation against non-conventional security challenges, such as piracy and transnational terrorism," the Defense Department said in a statement. "Both sides also agreed to enhance cooperation in new areas, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, cyber defense, biosecurity and public communications. Finally, the enhanced DCA also introduced new high-level dialogues between the two countries' defense establishments."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Monday accused the United States of working toward "regional militarization" that did "not accord with the joint long-term interests" of the region, including the often-contentious territorial disagreements in the South China Sea.
U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Arlo Abrahamson told BBC News the latest efforts by the United States were "not solely focused on the South China Sea," but instead "about partnership with Singapore and other partners in the region."