New satellite images show the Chinese military was using models of United States warships as targets while conducting ballistic missile training.
— AEROSINT Division PSF (@PSFAERO) November 8, 2021
The Washington Examiner reports:
The models are an exact outline of the kinds of ships the United States uses in the South China Sea. Satellites picked up at least one clear image of an aircraft carrier and two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, according to pictures from satellite imaging company Maxar acquired by the U.S. Naval Institute.
“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,” said the AllSource Analysis summary cited by USNI News. “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.”
China built similar models of U.S. ships in 2019, though they were dismantled later that year. They were rebuilt beginning in September and completed last month. The structures appear to operate on a rail system and can be moved. So far, there are no weapon impacts in the area.
The models were first identified via satellite images in the Taklamakan Desert area of Ruoqiang County, where the Chinese military has conducted ballistic missile testing in the past. In 2013, it used a range in the area to test anti-ship missiles.
The new training procedure come amid heightened tension between the United States and China over the conflict in Taiwan.