Satellite images depict targets in the shape of a carrier and two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers at a testing facility in the Ruoqiang area of Xinjiang’s Taklamakan desert, the news website of the US Naval Institute reported. Both types of vessels are deployed by the US Seventh Fleet, which patrols the Western Pacific including the waters around Taiwan.
The images were taken in October by Maxar Technologies Inc, a US firm with more than 80 company-built satellites in orbit. The facility also has two rectangular targets about 75 meters (246 feet) long that are mounted on rails, Maxar said in a statement emailed to Bloomberg News on Monday.
(A mock-up of US navy aircraft carrier and destroyer in China’s northwestern desert. Photo: Maxar Technologies via AP)
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Monday at a regular press briefing in Beijing that he was unaware of reports about the satellite images.
The site is clear to satellites, a sign that Beijing is trying to show Washington what its missile forces can do. In August last year, the Chinese military executed a coordinated test launch of the “carrier killer” DF-21D missiles into the South China Sea, an action that the former head of the US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Phil Davidson later told a Senate panel was intended as an “unmistakable message.”
The DF-21D is central to China’s strategy of deterring military action off its eastern coast by threatening to destroy the major sources of US power projection in the region, namely its carrier battle groups. The then-head of Naval Intelligence Vice Admiral Jack Dorsett told reporters in January 2011 that the Pentagon had underestimated the speed at which China developed and was fielding the DF-21D.
China-US ties have been quietly improving in recent months, but the two nations are sparring over Taiwan and alarm has been growing in Washington over Beijing’s nuclear arsenal. In a sign of how heated the rhetoric over Taiwan has become, Chinese state media last week had to tame online speculation over a possible war.
The Pentagon has voiced concern that China is expanding its nuclear weapons capabilities faster than previously believed. Many in the US military establishment are also concerned about China’s investments in advanced missile technology, with the top uniformed military officer recently calling China’s reported hypersonic weapons system tests “very concerning.”
“평생 사상가. 웹 광신자. 좀비 중독자. 커뮤니케이터. 창조자. 프리랜서 여행 애호가.”