Navy adding surveillance planes, drones to its Asia-Pacific fleet

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By ERIK SLAVIN Stars and Stripes

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The U.S. Navy is stepping up its ocean surveillance capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region, with new manned aircraft arriving within the next year and preparations for next-generation drones beginning as soon as October 2013.

The advanced aircraft likely will be welcomed by multiple U.S. allies in the region. China’s increasingly assertive claims on much of the East China Sea and nearly all of the South China Sea — including untapped energy reserves and vast fishing grounds — have recently led nations with competing claims to at least consider asking the U.S. for more aerial surveillance.