China builds mock US war ships in the desert to test missiles

Testing ballistic missiles inland is less accurate, but easier to conceal from the international community. 

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

China appears to have built a series of mock U.S. Naval vessels, including rails on which to move them. The set up is thought to allow China to test ballistic missiles in the desert where the tests can be more easily concealed.

The mock vessels, including a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and other U.S. warships, were spotted on satellite images of the Taklamakan desert in the Xinjiang province by Maxar, a private company specializing in space technology and intelligence.

According to Reuters, the images showed a full-scale outline of a U.S. carrier and at least two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers. Also spotted on the images was what appears to be a six foot wide rail system with a vessel mounted upon it, apparently to allow the mock ship to be turned into a moving target.

The U.S. Naval Institute reported that the complex has been used for testing ballistic missiles, citing geospatial intelligence company All Source Analysis.

The Pentgon’s latest report on the Chinese military found that China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) conducted its first confirmed live-fire test of anti-ballistic missiles (ASBM) in June 2020. Six DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missiles were fired into the waters north of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, close to territories disputed with Taiwan.

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However, Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore commented that those tests may have demonstrated to China that “they are still far from creating an accurate ASBM.”

He speculated that the tests have been moved inland in order to keep them away from view of the international community.

“The best way to test it and keep it out of the prying eyes of the U.S. military and intelligence assets is to do it inland,” he said, adding: “I don’t think the desert targets are going to be the final stage. It’s meant for further refinement.”

He also noted that other countries may be concerned that tests at sea could hit their ships and raise objections over the tests.