China has landed heavy bombers on one of its outposts in the South China Sea for the first time, part of an operation intended to provide "experience for Air Force bomber units to use islands as their bases," according to the Defense Ministry.

China sent several advanced H-6K bombers from an undisclosed air base in southern China for "a simulated strike against sea targets before landing on an island in the South China Sea," an air force statement published on the Defense Ministry's website said late Friday.

The statement did not say where the landing drills took place, but experts confirmed that the bombers had conducted the exercises on Woody Island — China's largest base in the Paracel chain in the South China Sea — and not the airfields it has built on reclaimed land in the disputed Spratly chain further south.