- China build full-size mock-ups of American combat vessels to test its anti-ship missiles.
- The mock-ups of a US Ford-class aircraft carrier and two Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyers spotted.
- These types of US warships regularly sail close to Chinese waters and around Taiwan.
The United States Naval Institute (USNI) published what it said were satellite images of full-scale targets in the shape of a US Ford-class aircraft carrier and at least two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers. The photos were provided by satellite imagery company Maxar.
The same types of American warships regularly sail close to Chinese waters and around Taiwan.
The Chinese military has been building life-size replicas of US combat vessels in a missile testing area, USNI report says.
According to USNI, the carrier-shaped target was first built in a remote desert in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region between March and April of 2019, then largely dismantled in December of that year. The construction resumed in late September of this year and was completed by early October, the think tank said.
Apart from the main carrier-shaped target, the report said there were two other target areas resembling an aircraft due to their outline. Maxar said the site contained two rectangular targets about 75 meters (246 feet) long that were mounted on rails.
Aircraft carriers and Arleigh Burke-class ships are part of the US 7th Fleet, whose vessels have sailed close to Chinese maritime borders, including waters around Taiwan, and participated in naval drills with Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.
According to military analysts, by placing targets in an area clear to foreign satellites Beijing was apparently “trying to show Washington what its missile forces can do.”
When asked about the matter on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said he was unaware of reports about the satellite images.
In August 2020, China test-fired DF-26 and DF-21D long-range anti-ship missiles, dubbed “carrier killers” by some analysts.
US-Chinese relations have deteriorated significantly in recent years over issues ranging from trade and espionage to China’s brutal assault in democratic freedoms in Hong Kong and China’s threats to Taiwan.