For those concerned about the military strength of the country of China, this latest news is daunting. There are new satellite images that were released this week that appear to show that communist China’s military has constructed a mockup of a U.S. aircraft carrier in a remote Chinese desert. This is now the second mockup that China has developed.
This news comes following a full-scale outline of a U.S. carrier and at least two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that were found a couple of days ago at a target range.
According to a report from the U.S. Naval Institute, the site that has been surveyed consists of a single aircraft carrier target, which is miles from the nearest town in the Xinjiang region. There are now photos that have been provided to USNI News by the satellite imagery company Maxar. The target carrier is approximately 300 miles away from a much larger missile range in the Taklamakan Desert.
The two sites with targets both have similar characteristics and are aligned on a map with the carriers facing the same direction. It looks like they are in a convoy.
The outline of the second aircraft carrier does not seem to be a full-scale mockup, but it is nearly 600 feet long. Construction on this carrier appears to have begun over the summer.
According to one report, the models are supposed to represent the enemy forces in Chinese exercises. China typically uses blue to represent enemy forces, while their forces are represented by the color red.
With these mockups in their own territory, they can have the entire missile flight take place within their own interior and China has even greater control of the airspace used. And keeping the exercise in the desert, away from the coast, makes sure that any debris can not be recovered by opposing navies. This makes it very difficult to gather intelligence on their weapon tests.
The U.S. Department of Defense reported recently on China’s military capabilities. It included information on the weapon systems that the Chinese possess that could be used to target U.S. warships.
China has the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) with the conventionally armed CSS-5 Mod 5 (DF-21D) ASBM variant. This enables the PLA the capability to conduct long-range precision strikes against ships, including aircraft carriers.
They also have the multi-role DF-26 which is designed to rapidly swap conventional and nuclear warheads. It is capable of conducting precision land-attack and anti-ship strikes in the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the South China Sea from mainland China.
And since early 2018, the PRC-occupied Spratly Island outposts have been equipped with advanced anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile systems. They also have significant military jamming equipment. This means that they have the most capable land-based weapons systems deployed by anyone in the much-disputed South China Sea.
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and PLAN Aviation together make up the largest aviation force in the region and the third-largest in the world. They have over 2,800 total aircraft including fighters, strategic bombers, tactical bombers, multi-mission tactical, and attack aircraft.
Pentagon spokesperson, John Kirby, was asked about the Chinese military exercises on Monday. He said that “it’s been pretty, fairly obvious” that the U.S. is concerned about what China is doing.
“I think makes it very clear what our understanding of their intentions are, and their capabilities are. And how they’re developing those capabilities and to what ends,” Kirby said. “And clearly, they have invested a lot and particularly air and maritime capabilities that are designed largely to try to prevent the United States from having access to certain areas in the Indo-Pacific.”