Beijing – Satellite images showbuilt scale models of an aircraft carrier and U.S. Navy destroyer in its northwest desert, possibly to train for a future naval clash as tensions rise between nations . China has dramatically improved its military in recent years, and its capabilities and intentions increasingly concern the United States as tensions rise during the , and military supremacy in the Indo-Pacific.
Images captured by Colorado-based satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies, dated Sunday, show the outlines of a U.S. aircraft carrier and at least one destroyer sitting on a railroad track.
Maxar identified the location as Ruoqiang, a county in the Taklamakan Desert in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
The Independent United States Naval Institute said on its website that the model ships of the United States were part of a new range of targets being developed by the People’s Liberation Army. It was not clear from the footage how much detail was included in the apparent targets, although USNI said it identified features on the destroyer, including its funnels and weapon systems.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a daily briefing Monday that he had no information about the footage, saying, âI am not aware of the situation you have. mentioned.
China’s massive military upgrade has focused on fighting naval forces from the United States and other countries.
This includes the development of land, sea and air launched missiles to repel and possibly sink enemy ships, expressed most emphatically by the DF-21D land ballistic missile known as the “aircraft carrier killer”.
The past few months have also seen a significantjust southwest of Taiwan, the autonomous island republic claimed by Beijing and which it threatens to annex by force. Washington supplies Taiwan with a large part of its weapons and US law requires it to ensure that the island can defend itself and treat threats against it as matters of “serious concern”.
The images released by Maxar come amid growing concern about the possibility of a military conflict between the world’s two largest economies, which are at odds over a litany of political and economic issues.
The Pentagon released a report this month saying China is expanding its nuclear force much faster than US officials predicted just a year ago. This appears designed to allow Beijing to match or overtake the United States’ world power by mid-century, according to the report.
U.S. defense officials have said they are increasingly suspicious of China’s intentions, mainly regarding Taiwan’s status.
“The PLA’s evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen (China’s) ability to ‘fight and win wars’ against a ‘powerful enemy’ – a likely understatement for the United States,” the report said.
The Chinese Navy and Coast Guard are also adding new ships at a record rate, concentrating them in the South China Sea, the strategic waterway that China claims virtually in its entirety.
If the US Navy remains predominant, its resources are distributed between the Indo-Pacific, the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean and other regions where American interests reside.
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the test was “very close” to a “Sputnik moment”, similar to the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of the world’s first space satellite, which fueled the fears of the United States. States had lagged behind technologically.