China Has Built Mockups of US Navy Aircraft. For Nuclear Missile Practice?

China put its aircraft carrier mockups on the desert.
Ameya Paleja
The aircraft carriers were used out in the desert. shauni/iStock

Images captured by a private satellite service have revealed that China has built mock-ups resembling U.S. Navy's aircraft carrier and a destroyer, Associated Press reported.  The images were captured in a desert in the northwestern province of the country, so it is unlikely that they were made for a purpose other than target testing.

Earlier in September this year, we had reported how the U.S. plans to counter China's rising influence in the South China sea by sharing nuclear submarine technology with Australia. While the details of the plans still need to be ironed out, China seems to be working aggressively on its military expansion with the Pentagon suggesting that China wants to outpace the U.S. nuclear force by the middle of the century, Politico reported. 

While China has denied allegations of force expansion, it has reportedly been the aggressor with Taiwan sending nuclear-capable bombers into Taiwanese airspace last month. While Taiwan is a self-governing island, the U.S. treats threats to the island's sovereignty as a "matter of grave concern" and provides it the weaponry to defend itself, Politico reported.

On the other hand, China considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province. Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to reunite Taiwan with the People's Republic of China, just last month. So, any movement on this front is likely to evoke a response from the U.S. as well. The recently released satellite images from Ruoqiang, a Taklamakan Desert county in northwestern China show that the country is preparing for a confrontation with the U.S. Navy. 

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The U.S. Naval Insitute (USNI), an independent body, called the mock-ups, part of the target range that the Chinese Army has made. The images, captured near a railway track in the desert, suggest that the mock-ups can be transported. However, the level of details on the mock-ups is not clear, giving the resolution of the satellite images. However, UNSI was able to identify features such as funnels and weapon systems on the destroyer, Politico reported. 

China has allegedly developed the DF-21D, a land-based ballistic missile, regarded as the 'carrier killer.' Coupled with the report of over 300 intercontinental ballistic missile silos that were caught under development by other satellite images, China does seem to be escalating its firepower. However, during a daily briefing a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said he could not provide any information as he was not aware of the situation and the images, Politico reported. 

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