Mockups of F-35s and F-22s attacked in Taklamakan desert – images

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The People’s Liberation Army Air Force [PLAAF] is stepping up its game by learning to strike at US F-35 and F-22 fighter jets stationed at a simulated airfield. Recent satellite images have unveiled that China has constructed a mock “enemy” air base in the Taklamakan Desert, specifically in Xinjiang, featuring replica fighter jets. This development was highlighted by Clash Report in a post on X [formerly known as Twitter]. 

“Chinese PLA Air Force pilots are learning to practice air strikes on American F-35 and F-22 mockups. Qakilik, Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang,” read the post. 

Captured via Google Earth on May 29 of this year, the images clearly show areas where the mock aircraft have been targeted and destroyed. In some photos, it’s evident that the Chinese Air Force’s practice attacks have caused significant damage to these models, while others show partial destruction. Approximately 30 mock-ups have been constructed in this desert area, indicating a focused effort for PLAAF training exercises.

Photo credit: Twitter

On water

A recently shared photo online shows a Chinese replica of a U.S. Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The PLA Navy uses this mock-up as a “target ship” to train personnel in anti-ship targeting exercises. 

Chinese sailors’ training methods mimic those of the Japanese Asahi-class destroyers. This utilization of a U.S. warship model for drills demonstrates that Beijing likely considers the U.S. its primary adversary. 

Photo credit: Top War

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has a history of employing realistic models for training. Beijing has even constructed lifelike replicas of its J-31 fighter jets for aircraft carrier use. Recent footage highlights these models on the decks of China’s new carriers, offering crucial spatial insights and valuable training opportunities.

An aircraft carrier in the desert

China has taken a groundbreaking approach to education, constructing a life-size replica of an American aircraft carrier right in the middle of a desert. But that’s just the beginning. Satellite images have also uncovered two realistic mock-ups of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers situated amidst the desert sands. These revelations came to light before the war in Ukraine, with satellite company Maxar bringing them to public attention in November 2021. 

Photo credit: Maxar

Yet, China’s use of such models doesn’t stop there. This tactic also serves to mislead enemy forces, diverting their resources to false targets and showcasing the strategic benefits of visual deception in modern warfare.

Patriot SAM in China?

Recently, an intriguing sight unfolded on Chinese roads: a US Patriot anti-aircraft missile system mock-up, mounted on a truck. This unexpected scene made waves, sparking excitement and speculation. Some theories suggested that Russia had seized the system in Ukraine and passed it on to China for examination. 

Photo credit: Twitter

But these theories were quickly debunked. Experts clarified that what we were seeing was a “VISMOD” [visual modification] training tool employed by the People’s Liberation Army [PLA]. According to Intel analyst Ryan McBeth, the tire treads and taillights in the image didn’t match those of genuine US Patriot systems, raising questions about the photo’s authenticity.

Taiwan is watching

Taiwanese officials have observed a marked rise in Chinese military activities around the island since Lai Ching-te’s ascent to power, with the pressure growing more intense as his inauguration day draws nearer. During President Biden’s meeting with Xi Jinping in San Francisco last November, it’s believed that both leaders reached agreements hinting at a more restrained U.S. stance towards Taiwan. 

Photo credit: Yahoo News

However, following Lai Ching-te’s election victory in Taiwan, the tensions between the nations have ramped up. Taiwanese analysts suggest that through such maneuvers, Beijing aims to apply pressure on the new administration in Taipei. 

In recent times, there’s been a conspicuous increase in the presence of Chinese warships near the island, with PLA aircraft making deliberate approaches toward Taiwan. The PLA frequently engages in varied exercises in the region, including amphibious drills involving mine clearance units, night operations, and air-to-air refueling exercises.


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