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China: why are replicas of American ships in the middle of the desert?

These “models” would be likely to serve as training targets for missile fire, according to satellite images.

Surprising apparitions in the middle of the Chinese desert. Beijing built what appear to be replicas of American warships deployed in the Pacific there. According to US satellite images, dating from October 21, these life-size structures, including at least one in the shape of an aircraft carrier and another with the outlines of a destroyer, have been spotted in the Taklamakan Desert in the region of Xinjiang in western China.

One of them was mounted on rails, and while some appeared to be two-dimensional, others appeared to be more sophisticated, according to the United States Naval Institute (USNI). “Analysis of the history of satellite images shows that the aircraft carrier-shaped structure was the first to be built between March and April 2019,” the institute said in a report.

“It has undergone numerous reconstructions and was partly dismantled in December 2019. The site was brought back to life at the end of September of this year and the structure was substantially complete at the beginning of October”, according to this report which quotes the intelligence company AllSource Analysis for which the area has been used in the past to test ballistic missiles.

“Not aware of the situation”.

Asked about the footage, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin replied on Monday that he was “not aware of the situation.” According to a Pentagon report on the Chinese military released last week,  Beijing is currently working on a major effort to modernize its weaponry , with weapons capable of neutralizing US warships in the event of regional conflict.

According to these images taken by the American satellite company Maxar Technologies last month and transmitted to AFP on Sunday, these life-size structures, including at least one in the shape of an aircraft carrier and another following the contours of a destroyer, have been spotted in the Taklamakan Desert in the Xinjiang region of western China.

One of them was mounted on rails, and while some appeared to be two-dimensional, others appeared to be more sophisticated, according to the United States Naval Institute (USNI).

” Analysis of the history of satellite images shows that the aircraft carrier-shaped structure was the first to be built between March and April 2019, ” the institute said in a report.

” It has undergone numerous reconstructions and was partly dismantled in December 2019. The site was brought back to life at the end of September of this year and the structure was substantially complete at the beginning of October “, according to this report which quotes the intelligence company AllSource Analysis for which the area has been used in the past to test ballistic missiles.

Asked about the footage, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin replied on Monday that he was ” not aware of the situation .”

According to a Pentagon report on the Chinese military released last week, Beijing is currently working on a major effort to modernize its weaponry, with weapons capable of neutralizing US warships in the event of regional conflict.

The Pentagon cites the DF-21D missile with a range of over 1,500 kilometers, ” capable of carrying out precision long-range strikes against vessels, including aircraft carriers operating in the western Pacific, from mainland China. ” .

The Chinese army deployed these missiles during exercises, ” an unambiguous message sent to world and regional opinions “, according to American admiral Philip Davidson.

In March before the US Senate, the admiral underlined how much, according to him, the use of these missiles during military exercises demonstrated the willingness of the Chinese army to counter any intervention by a third force in the event of a regional crisis. .

The US Navy regularly conducts operations in the South China Sea and around Taiwan, which irritates Beijing, which claims sovereignty over the island.

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