Satellite imagery indicates realistic military training in western Xinjiang region, reports The Wall Street Journal.China
appears to have built models the size of a U.S. aircraft carrier and other warships in a desert, illustrating how the People’s Liberation Army did. focuses on increasingly realistic training as tension with the United States mounts on Taiwan. Writes The Wall Street Journal.
Satellite images from a remote desert in China’s western Xinjiang region, which the PLA uses for exercises, show contours in the shape of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier and at least two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, according to details provided by two companies with based in Colorado. The results show that the aircraft carrier-sized structure appears to be built on railway tracks to allow for its movement.
Evidence of the ship’s mock-up – purportedly designed for shooting practice – comes amid concerns about Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its sovereign territory and which the United States supplies with military hardware. The PLA is increasingly active in the skies and seas around Taiwan, as the United States and Western allies intensify naval patrols in apparent efforts to dissuade Beijing from taking action to gain control of the island.
Photographs of ship-like structures by Maxar Technologies Inc. and interpreted by AllSource Analysis Inc. show that their dimensions match the hull dimensions of US military ships, but with little or no deck equipment and other characteristics of a real ship.
There are about eight mock-ups of ships plus unidentified equipment that appear to be sensors spread over a large area that China has used for training in the past, said Renny Babiarz, an AllSource Analysis analyst who first discovered the site.
“Part of China’s testing for weapons systems is now incorporating detailed examples of US equipment, and US equipment that is in the Pacific theater,” said Mr. Babiarz.
A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, told a briefing in Beijing on Monday that he was unaware of the situation when asked about the satellite images.
The photos of the ship-like structures are the latest illustration of how satellite imagery can give clues to the priorities of China’s military secret. Previous images from space demonstrated the construction of runways and other signs of military base construction on islands in the South China Sea, while other photographs showed the construction of roads and new structures along China’s disputed borders with Bhutan and India. This year, satellites also detected signs of missile silo construction around China as Beijing expands its nuclear arsenal.
Satellite photography has also been instrumental in opening the world’s eyes to the size of camps in Xinjiang which, according to human rights groups, have interned Muslim minorities and which Beijing calls training facilities.
Marines around the world build realistic-looking targets to practice; Iran for example used a copy of a US aircraft carrier. For nearly two decades, China has been known to have used ship simulations in its remote deserts for shooting exercises, and in 2013 a Taiwan media report reported attacks by a missile dubbed a “carrier killer,” the DF- 21D, on a structure designed to resemble the body of a United States aircraft carrier.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby declined to talk about the ship models, saying he hadn’t seen the images.
Kirby pointed to an annual Pentagon report on China’s military power, released last week, as an indicator of the Defense Department’s concerns about Chinese capabilities. The report traces an overall increase in the size and strength of the Chinese military.
It also points to significant efforts by the PLA to make its military training more realistic, including by stepping up the practice of live-fire targeting missiles.
“I think this makes our understanding of their intentions and abilities very clear, how they are developing these abilities and for what purposes,” said Mr. Kirby.
(Extract from the foreign press review by Epr Comunicazione)

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