China builds mock-ups of U.S. Navy ships in area used for pr missile targets

China’s military has built mock-ups in the shape of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and other U.S. warships, possibly as training targets, in the Xinjiang desert, satellite images of Maxar showed on Sunday.

These mockups reflect China’s efforts to develop anti-aircraft capabilities, specifically against the US Navy, as tensions remain high with Washington over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Satellite images showed a large-scale schematic of a US aircraft carrier and at least two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers had been built in what appears to be a new target range complex in the Taklamakan desert.

The images also showed a 20-foot-wide rail system with a ship-sized target mounted on it, which experts say could be used to simulate a moving ship.

The complex has been used for ballistic missile testing, the US Naval Institute reported, citing geospatial intelligence company All Source Analysis.

US Navy Guided Missile Destroyer patrols in the Philippine Sea. The destroyer sailed 12 nautical miles from an island claimed by China and two other states in the South China Sea in 2016 to counter efforts to limit freedom of navigation, the Pentagon said. (credit: REUTERS)

China’s anti-ship missile programs are overseen by the Rocket Force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLARF). China’s Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the latest Pentagon annual report on China’s military, the PLARF conducted its first confirmed live-fire launch in the South China Sea in July 2020, firing six DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missiles into the waters north of the Islands. Spratly, where China has territorial disputes with Taiwan and four Southeast Asian countries.

Tests at sea may have shown that China “is still a long way from creating an accurate ASBM,” said Collin Koh, a researcher at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “I don’t think the desert goals are going to be the final stage. It is destined for further refinement.”

An anti-ship ballistic missile test in the desert would not reflect realistic conditions in a marine environment, which could affect sensors and orientation, but would allow China to conduct tests more safely, Koh said.

“The best way to test it and keep it out of the prying eyes of US military and intelligence assets is to do it inland,” he said.

Neighboring countries, concerned about missiles hitting other ships around the target, could also oppose China’s tests at sea, he added.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in July this year that the United States will defend the Philippines if it is attacked in the South China Sea and warned China to stop its “provocative behavior.”

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *