In a joint statement after a meeting in Washington on Monday, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen welcomed the inaugural deployment of the aircraft in Singapore from Dec 7 to 14.

A US defence official said further deployments in Singapore could be expected. The move comes at a time of heightened tensions in the South China Sea over China's assertive pursuit of territorial claims there.

The US deployment is likely to anger China, which is at odds with Washington over the South China Sea. China claims almost the entire energy-rich sea, through which more than  USD 5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year.

The United States already operates P8s from Japan and the Philippines, and has also conducted surveillance flights from Singapore's neighbor, Malaysia.

Washington has criticized China's building of artificial islands in the South China Sea's disputed Spratly archipelago, and has conducted sea and air patrols near them recently.

Latest News from World News Desk