China’s military has come up with mockups of a US aircraft carrier along with other warships in Southwest Xinjiang’s Taklamakan desert. The declaration was made in a report by the US Naval Institute (USNI). Beijing has worked on missile targets that replicate the shape of a US carrier and two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. These could be for training purposes.
The USNI has images of the constructions from a satellite imagery major named Maxar. It was reported that a full-scale outline of a US carrier and two destroyers are a part of central China’s Ruoqiang region’s target range.
It mentioned that the site is close to a previous target range China would use to test initial versions of the country’s carrier-killer DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs). It also added that the new range indicates that Beijing has been consistently focused on its anti-carrier capabilities with special emphasis on warships belonging to the US Navy.
John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said that China has been focused on enhancing maritime and aviation capabilities to counter target America in the Indo-Pacific zone. This was reported on Monday. He added that Beijing has invested significantly in these capabilities designed to prevent the US from accessing selected areas in that region.
China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) that supervises the country’s anti-ship missile plans carried out its first live-fire launch into the South China Sea around July last year, per Pentagon’s most recent annual report covering China’s PLA.
During this operation, the PLARF had fired as many as six DF-21 ASBMs toward the north of the Spratly Islands, where Beijing is in territorial dispute with four Southeast Asian nations and Taiwan.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, has to say that tests conducted at sea may have shown China, but it is far from building a strong ASBM.
He explained to Reuters that according to him, the desert targets are not expected to be part of the final phase. It indicates further refinement. Koh also added that any accurate ASBM test in the desert would fail to showcase the real condition of a marine environment that could impact targeting and sensors. It would, however, allow China to conduct tests securely.
Beijing and Washington have continued sparring over Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Last month, Joe Biden, the US President, had declared that the country would provide protection to Taiwan from hostile attacks from China. This undeterred China, which then flew a record-breaking number of airplanes over Taiwan’s air defense zone.
In July 2021, Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, warned China and stated that the nation will defend the Philippines whenever it comes under any kind of attack in the South China Sea.