Tensions are rising in Taiwan, and both the U.S. and China are refining their war strategies and battle tactics to defeat each other. In the latest move, Beijing is practicing flying the United States (US) frontline fighter jets F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptors.

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New satellite images have shown that China is practicing bombing models of US fighter jets, presumably through precision strikes. In what may be the aftermath of a Chinese military strike, the image shows charred F-35s and F-22s at one end of a long runway.

China conducts regular exercises in the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang Province. The Target Range Complex has several military testing sites. Photos provided to USNI News three years ago by satellite imagery company Maxar show that China has built models of a US Ford-class aircraft carrier and two Early Burke-class destroyers.

The full-size aircraft carrier was near a former target range used by China to test early versions of its carrier-killing DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles. In January 2024, it was revealed that China had built a mock-up of the US Navy supercarrier USS Gerald R. Ford at the target complex. This development is in line with China’s continued focus on anti-carrier capabilities against the US.

USS Gerald R. Ford: China now has a complete model of the US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier for ‘target practice’.

However, the presence of low-tech models of US 5th generation fighter jets F-35s and F-22s has only one explanation: the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is practicing airstrikes on the target area. The site also has mock-ups of P-8A Poseidon and U-2 spy planes.

F-35s are the fighter of choice for allies in the Indo-Pacific to deliver advanced land- and sea-based missiles. In addition to the USAF’s F-35As, the US Marine Corps’ and Navy’s F-35s maintain a continued presence in the Indo-Pacific, with South Korean F-35As training alongside recent F-35B training and aircraft-borne F- 35C operations included. Carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

To strengthen interoperability, the United States, Australia, and Japan will. Conduct Trilateral F-35 training in all three countries over the next two years. By 2035, more than 300 US and allied F-35s will be permanently deployed throughout the Indo-Pacific.

A satellite image showing the artificial aircraft was taken by Planet Labs PBC on April 19, 2024, and obtained by Business Insider. A photo taken over the Taklamakan desert shows a covered and uncovered aircraft along the runway. About 20 aircraft are located near the building, with an additional three aircraft near the runway. In the photo, most of the planes are covered, but nine of them appear to be exposed.

China trains its troops by building life-size models of its enemy’s weapons platforms, which for all practical purposes is the US at the moment. Experts have also speculated in the past that the mockups could help China improve its search engines with photo-recognition capabilities. This allows the PLA to inflict maximum damage on specific warships with missiles.

China has also built a fictitious part of Taiwan’s capital, including its presidential office and government buildings, in the desert of the Alexa League region. Such a facility can be used for training to prepare it for conflict.

Chinese jet comes within 5 minutes of ‘hitting’ Taiwan’s top office. The former commander says that stopping the PLA is difficult.

Military training or psychological operation?

This practice of making mockups is very Chinese. Air forces around the world typically bomb runways or aircraft by circling their runways. It also indicates that the mock-up also helps create a smoke screen for China’s adversaries.

Recently, a photo of the American Patriot anti-aircraft missile system mounted on a truck started circulating on social media. The image had predictably raised concern as some theories suggested that Russia had managed to get its hands on one of the systems used by Ukraine and transferred it to China.

However, the ideas were dismissed as experts mocked it as a VISMOD (Visual Modification) training tool or in other words the Patriot system.

China is already on the rise as its stance on Taiwan becomes more aggressive. Chinese planes and drones are being seen near the island with alarming frequency.

Fears that the Communist Party may follow through on its promise to take over the self-ruled island of Taiwan by force have grown in recent days in light of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s escalating hostilities against the self-ruled island.

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Beijing claims Democratic Taiwan as its territory and has never shied away from using force to bring the autonomous island under its control.

Analysts and military strategists believe that Beijing will either choose an all-out attack or a military blockade to try for an alliance.

The US insistence that the island nation should be an independent sovereign state was not heeded by China. Beijing took indirect military action against Taiwan in May this year, as it held a major two-day exercise around the island in a ‘severe punishment’ for the self-ruled country’s ‘separatist actions’.

Mock exercises and drills send a message to the US and Taiwan not to test Beijing’s commitment to the “reunification” plan.

  • Ritu Sharma has been a journalist for over a decade, writing on defence, foreign affairs and nuclear technology.
  • He can be contacted at ritu.sharma (at) mail.com.
  • Follow Eurasian Times on Google News.

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