Satellite images from China’s northwestern Xinjiang region appear to show a full outline of a “Ford-class” aircraft carrier currently being built for the US Navy, and the shapes of at least two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers at a new target range. complex in the Taklamakan Desert, according to the USNI, a private, professional, non-profit military association.
The complex has been used repeatedly for ballistic missile testing, according to USNI and Maxar Technologies, a space technology company.
“This new series shows China’s continued focus on anti-carrier capabilities, with a focus on US Navy warships,” USNI reported.
Soldiers around the world regularly build mock-ups of real targets, such as iconic monuments, warships and aircraft carriers.
China’s anti-ship ballistic missile programs are overseen by the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF). CNN has reached out to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of National Defense for comment.
In a press conference on Monday, Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby said the U.S. Department of Defense was aware of media reports of the mockups but was instead focused on its own readiness to issue a statement. free and open Indo-Pacific region.
“What we are concerned about… is the increasing intimidation and coercive behavior of the Chinese military in the Indo-Pacific, as well as the coercion tactics they use, even with economic instruments around the world to bend other nations to their will. to put.” will or in their opinion about what is in their best interest,” Kirby said.
“We are focused on developing the capabilities, the operational concepts, and making sure we have the resources and the right strategy in place so that we can tackle (China) as the No. 1 pacing challenge.”
In 2020 alone, the PLARF launched more than 250 ballistic missiles for testing and training — “more than the rest of the world combined,” according to the Pentagon.
The Pentagon report came amid heightened tensions over China’s military exercises in the Pacific, and was published just hours after U.S. top general, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, warned that China’s military advances amounted to ” one of the greatest shifts in global geostrategic power the world has seen.”
A senior defense official who briefed reporters on the report took a similar stance.
CNN has contacted the Pentagon about the Maxar satellite images.
Beijing claims almost the entire expanse of the South China Sea as its sovereign territory and has stepped up efforts in recent years to assert power over its resource-rich waters, turning a series of obscure reefs and atolls into heavily fortified man-made islands and maritime activity in the region.
However, its territorial ambitions are contested by at least five other countries and rejected outright by Washington.
“China’s DF-26 and DF-21D are the world’s first ballistic missiles capable of targeting large and medium-sized ships, earning them the title of ‘aircraft carrier killers,'” the state-run Global Times said at the time. referring to military observers.
CNN’s Oren Liebermann and Brad Lendon contributed to this report.