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China Builds Mockups of US Navy Ships in Area Used For Missile Target Practice
By Staff, Agencies
China's military built mockups in the shape of a US Navy aircraft carrier and other US warships, possibly as training targets, in the desert of Xinjiang, satellite images by Maxar showed on Sunday.
These mockups reflect China's efforts to build up anti-carrier capabilities, specifically against the US Navy, as tensions remain high with Washington over Taiwan and the South China Sea.
The satellite images showed a full-scale outline of a US carrier and at least two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers had been built at what appears to be a new target range complex in the Taklamakan Desert.
The images also showed a 6-meter-wide rail system with a ship-sized target mounted on it, which experts say could be used to simulate a moving vessel.
China's anti-ship missile programs are overseen by the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force [PLARF]. China's defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The tests at sea may have shown China "they are still far from creating an accurate ASBM," said Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. "I don't think the desert targets are going to be the final stage. It's meant for further refinement."
An anti-ship ballistic missile test in the desert would not reflect the realistic conditions of a marine environment, which could affect sensors and targeting, but would allow China to carry out the tests more securely, Koh said.
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