As has been previously reported, China has been building aircraft carrier targets in the Taklamakan Desert, and USNI News reported this month that other sites have emerged forming “a string of large-scale target ranges running along the eastern edge of the desert.” Satellite photos suggest that these include simulated warships that were modeled on actually U.S. ships in port.
Among these is a facility that includes full-scale piers and destroyer-sized “ship-like” targets that were constructed in December. A test missile was reported to have hit the simulated warship “dead center” in February. The target site was then quickly disassembled, likely for evaluation.
Such sites, located in extremely remote regions, have apparently been used for testing hypersonic anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), which have been seen as a potential “carrier killer.” Based on past evidence, it is clear that the United States Navy’s carriers are what China has been preparing to strike.
Satellite images captured by Colorado-based satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies reportedly showed the mock-ups of the U.S. warships at a ballistic missile test site, and the targets appeared to represent a U.S. Navy nuclear-powered carrier such as the Nimitz or Ford-class, as well as an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.
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