China’s mock-up destroyer US Arleigh Burke floats out to sea

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A recently surfaced photo online showcases a Chinese mock-up of the US Arleigh Burke-class destroyer being utilized by the PLA Navy as a “target ship” to train personnel in anti-ship targeting simulations. 

Photo credit: Top War

The training scheme used by the Chinese sailors also closely mirrors that of the Japanese Asahi-class destroyers. The PLA’s employment of a US warship mock-up for these exercises indicates that Beijing likely views the US as its chief adversary. 

This strategy of using realistic models isn’t new for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Beijing has long adopted this method, even constructing realistic replicas of its J-31 fighter jets designed for aircraft carriers. Recent footage shows these models being positioned on the decks of China’s new carriers, providing crucial spatial references and valuable training scenarios.

Photo credit: Maxar

When it comes to training, China has definitely taken an innovative approach. They’ve constructed a life-size replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier right in the middle of the desert. And that’s not all. Satellite images have uncovered two realistic mock-ups of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers also situated in the desert sands. All of this became known before the war in Ukraine, with satellite company Maxar making the revelations public in November 2021. 

But China’s use of models doesn’t end there. This strategy is also used to mislead enemy forces, drawing their resources toward fake targets and showcasing the tactical advantages of visual deception in today’s warfare. 

In a recent update from BulgarianMilitary.com, a mock-up of an American Patriot anti-aircraft missile system was seen being transported on Chinese roads, loaded onto a truck. The sighting initially stirred excitement and speculation, leading to theories that Russia had captured this system in Ukraine and handed it over to China for analysis.

Photo credit: Maxar

However, these assumptions were incorrect. Experts identified the image as a ‘VISMOD’ [visual modification] training tool used by the People’s Liberation Army [PLA]. Intel analyst Ryan McBeth noted discrepancies in the tire treads and taillights visible in the photo, which did not match those of genuine U.S.-made Patriot systems, calling the photo’s authenticity into question. 

Taiwanese officials report a significant increase in China’s military pressure on the island since Lai Ching-te assumed power, with the pressure intensifying as his inauguration day approaches. During President Biden’s meeting with Xi Jinping in San Francisco last November, both sides are believed to have reached agreements that point to a more restrained U.S. policy toward Taiwan. 

Despite this, following Lai Ching-te’s election victory in Taiwan, tensions between the nations have escalated. Taiwanese experts suggest that Beijing is trying to exert pressure on the new government in Taipei through these actions.

Lately, there’s been a noticeable uptick in the presence of Chinese warships near the island, with PLA aircraft making deliberate approaches toward Taiwan. The PLA frequently holds diverse exercises in the area, including amphibious drills involving mine-clearing units, night operations, and air-to-air refueling practice.

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