China using mocked-up US aircraft carrier for target practice in desert, satellite images suggest

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This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies on November 8, 2021 shows a rail terminus and a target storage building in Ruoqiang county in the Taklamakan Desert, China's western Xinjiang region on October 8, 2021 (Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Tech)
This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies on November 8, 2021 shows a rail terminus and a target storage building in Ruoqiang county in the Taklamakan Desert, China's western Xinjiang region on October 8, 2021 (Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Tech)

New satellite images suggest China built mock-ups of a US Navy aircraft carrier and destroyer, which worries some that the United States might be headed for a collision with the People’s Republic of China, the Associated Press reported.

A Colorado-based satellite company called Maxar Technologies captured the images on Sunday, showing the outlines of one carrier and at least one destroyer on a railway track in Ruoqiang, which is in the northwestern Xinjiang region of the nation.

The US Naval Institute added that the mockups of US ships were part of a target range developed by the People’s Liberation Army, China’s military.

But Chinese Information Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in response to questions about the images, “I’m not aware of the situation you mentioned”.

China has recently upgraded its military forces and has frequently emphasised counteracting the United States’ naval forces and has developed air, land and sea-launched missiles to oppose and potentially sink moving vessels. One missile, the DF-21D ballistic missile, is known as the “carrier killer”.

The move comes after the United States announced a new nuclear-powered submarine fleet in September as part of a partnership with the United Kingdom and Australia as a means of counteracting China’s naval presence.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon released a report warning that China was expanding its nuclear force quicker than expected and that Beijing might be planning to surpass the United States by the middle of the century.

“The PLA's evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen (China’s) ability to ‘fight and win wars’ against a ‘strong enemy’ — a likely euphemism for the United States,” the report read.

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