US intelligence services had spotted Chinese Shenyang J-11 and Xian JH-7 warplanes on Woody Island in the disputed Paracel Islands chain over the past few days.

Navy Captain Darryn James, a spokesman for US Pacific Command, confirmed the report but noted that Chinese fighter jets have previously used the island.

Woody Island, which is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam, has an operational airfield since the 1990s but it was upgraded last year to accommodate the J-11.

The move was reported as US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in Washington.

Last week, China confirmed it had placed 'weapons; on Woody Island, defending what it said was its sovereign right to do so.

A US official told media that Beijing has deployed surface-to-air missiles on the island, apparently HQ-9s, which have a range of about 125 miles (200 kilometers.)

Wang had been scheduled to visit the Pentagon earlier yesterday but the visit was canceled due to a "scheduling conflict," officials said.

On Monday, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies released satellite imagery showing what appeared to be a high-frequency radar installation under construction on an artificial island on Cuarteron Reef in the Spratlys.

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