China Uses Mockups of US War Ships for Missile Target Practice in Xinjiang Desert

China's army has built mock-ups of a US aircraft carrier to undertake target training at a military range located in a remote part of the western desert of Xinjiang. Satellite images showing the mock-up aircraft carrier were captured by Maxar.

The move undertaken by China is believed to be an indication that the People's Liberation Army is training to neutralize an important part of U.S. military's power.

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A satellite picture shows a carrier target in Ruoqiang, Xinjiang, China. Maxar Technologies/Twitter

Aircraft Carriers Part of U.S. Seventh Fleet

The images were taken by Maxar Technologies Inc., a U.S. firm with over 80 company-built satellites in orbit, in October. It shows a target built in the shape of a carrier and two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers at a testing facility in the Taklamakan desert in Xinjiang, SCMP reported. The outlet further reported that target appears to be a flat surface without the carrier's island, aircraft lifts, and weapons.

The U.S. Seventh Fleet is undertaking patrols of the Western Pacific including the waters around Taiwan.

Apart from the mockups of the aircraft carrier, the images also reveal two rectangular targets about 75 metres (246 feet) long that are mounted on rails. USNI News reported that the site is near a former target range used by Chinese to test early versions of DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles also known as "carrier killer".

Carrier Target Initially Built in 2019

Stating that the part of the desert has been used for ballistic missile testing by the Chinese military, USNI quoted the summary provide by AllSource Analysis along with the images. "The mockups of several probable U.S. warships, along with other warships (mounted on rails and mobile), could simulate targets related to seeking/target acquisition testing," read the document.

"This, and the extensive detail of the mockups, including the placement of multiple sensors on and around the vessel targets, it is probable that this area is intended for multiple uses over time," it read further.

The outlet also claimed that the past satellite images have revealed that the carrier target structure was initially built between March and April in 2019. However, after undergoing several changes, it was removed in December 2019. China erected the structure once again in September this year and it was finally completed by October.