China using mock-ups of U.S. warships for target practice

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China has constructed giant targets of U.S. warships, including an aircraft carrier, at a desert range site in the country’s central region, apparently as an aid for practicing attack missions.

According to the U.S. Naval Institute, China’s military also built full-scale representations of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers inside the training area in the Ruoqiang region. The site had been previously been used to test the Chinese navy’s DF-21D “carrier killer” anti-ship ballistic missile.

While some of the targets are little more than an outline scratched onto the desert floor, others are more elaborate with attempts to mimic the superstructure of a U.S. warship, according to USNI’s analysis of satellite surveillance photographs taken of the site.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said he hadn’t seen the images of the Chinese target range complex.

“They can speak to their exercises and what they’re training against,” he told reporters. “They have invested a lot in air and maritime capabilities that are designed largely to prevent the United States from having access to certain areas in the Indo-Pacific.”

The U.S. is focusing on countering China’s increasing tactic of economic intimidation and coercion of other countries in the region, Mr. Kirby said.

“We are in full support of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said. “We’re going to continue to work toward that goal with our network of alliances and partnerships.”

At his daily briefing Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin professed ignorance of the mock-ups of American vessels. “I’m not aware of the situation you mentioned,” Mr. Wang told reporters, according to the Associated Press.

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