Target practice? China builds mock-ups of US Navy warships

Images show the outlines of an American aircraft carrier and at least one destroyer that sits on a railway track.

China has built mock-ups of US Navy vessels, satellite images have revealed.

China has upgraded its military massively in recent years, and its capability and intentions are concerning for the United States as tensions rise over the South China Sea, Taiwan and military supremacy in the Indo-Pacific.

The images captured by Colorado-based satellite imagery company Maxar Technologies dated on Sunday show the outlines of a US aircraft carrier and at least one destroyer that sits on a railway track.

Maxar identified the location of the features as Ruoqiang, a Taklamakan Desert county in the north-western Xinjiang region.

The independent US Naval Institute (USNI) said on its website that the mock-ups of US ships were part of a new target range developed by the People’s Liberation Army.

It is unclear from the images how many details had been included in the apparent targets, although USNI said it had identified features on the destroyer including its funnels and weapons systems.

China's military upgrade has emphasised countering the US and other countries' naval forces.

Satellite image of mock-up US Navy destroyer built by Chinese military  201021 CREDIT Satellite Image ©2021 Maxar Technologies VIA REUTERS
At least one destroyer was captured from the images (Picture: Satellite Image ©2021 Maxar Technologies via Reuters).

That includes the development of land, sea and air-launched missiles to deny access and possibly sink opposing vessels, expressed most emphatically by the land-based DF-21D ballistic missile known as the "carrier killer".

The images released by Maxar come amid growing concerns over the possibility of military conflict between the world’s two biggest economies, who are at odds over a litany of political and economic issues.

Most recently, the Pentagon this month issued a report saying China is expanding its nuclear force much faster than US officials predicted just a year ago.

US defence officials have said they are increasingly wary of China’s intentions, largely with regard to the status of Taiwan.