China simulates strikes on U.S. military assets in desert drills

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Picture source: X/@clashreport

11th July 2024 – (Beijing) Recent satellite imagery has revealed that the Chinese military is conducting simulated attacks on representations of U.S. military hardware, including fighter jets and aircraft carriers, in the deserts of Xinjiang. This activity could hint at China’s potential military strategies against U.S. forces in the event of conflict.

The images, sourced from Google Earth on 29th May, show a mock aircraft carrier and over twenty jet replicas, closely resembling U.S. stealth fighters. These models were identified in a post on X (formerly Twitter) by the Turkey-based military blog, Clash Report, pinpointing the location in the Taklamakan Desert of Qakilik. While these images are yet to be verified independently, and no official response has been obtained from Chinese authorities, the implications are stirring considerable interest among defence analysts.

Observers note that some of the replicas appear heavily damaged, suggesting intensive strike drills. According to Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, these exercises likely serve to enhance the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) capabilities with long-range ballistic and cruise missiles, specifically designed to counter U.S. naval power.

The strategic intent behind these drills aligns with Beijing’s broader military objectives, particularly in scenarios involving the South China Sea or Taiwan. Koh suggests that the drills may also encompass practice strikes on distant targets, including U.S. locations like Guam, Alaska, and Hawaii, reflecting a comprehensive approach to potential conflict zones.