These models reflect China’s efforts to expand its capabilities to attack aircraft carriers, specifically against the US Navy, where tensions remain high with Washington over Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Satellite images captured on Sunday (7) showed a full mock-up of a US aircraft carrier and at least two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers being built in what appears to be a new target complex in the Taklamakan Desert.
The images also show a 20-foot-wide rail system with a ship-sized target mounted on it, which experts say can be used to simulate a moving ship.
The complex was used to test ballistic missiles US Naval Institute, citing geospatial information company All Source Analysis.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Missile Force oversees China’s anti-ship missile programs. China’s Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the latest Pentagon annual report on the Chinese military, PLARF conducted its first confirmed real firing in the South China Sea in July 2020, firing six DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) into the northern waters of the Spratly Islands. There are territorial disputes between China, Taiwan and four countries in Southeast Asia.
Colin Koh, a researcher at the School of S.
“I don’t think the desert goals will be the final stage. They are working on more refinement.”
Koh said that launching an anti-ship ballistic missile in the desert would not reflect the realistic conditions of the marine environment, which could affect sensors and targeting, but it would allow China to conduct the tests more safely.
“The best way to test it and keep it out of the prying eyes of the military and US intelligence resources is to do it indoors,” he said.
He added that neighboring countries, concerned about missiles hitting other ships around the target, might also object to China’s sea tests.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in July of this year that the United States would defend the Philippines if it was attacked in the South China Sea and warned China to stop its “provocative behaviour”.
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