U.S. satellite images show China has built mock-ups of American warships, possibly for practice

The Chinese continue to expand their military prowess as U.S. leaders fear the states are falling behind
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Satellite images show that China has constructed mock-ups of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and destroyer ship in its northwestern desert. The replica is potentially being used for practice for a future naval clash with the U.S.

Tensions have risen between the U.S. and China in the last years, as the Communist-run country has vastly improved its military capabilities and begun sending threatening signals to Taiwan.

In fact, mock warships are not the only military developments the U.S. has clocked out of China this week. Earlier this month, the Pentagon issued a report stating China has expanded its nuclear force much more quickly than U.S. officials predicted just a year ago. 

"The PLA’s evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen (China’s) ability to 'fight and win wars' against a 'strong enemy' – a likely euphemism for the United States," reads the report.

The Colorado-based satellite imagery – Maxar Technologies – identified the location of the mock-up as Ruoqiang, in the Taklamakan Desert, in the northwestern Xinjiang region.

According to the independent United States Naval Institute, the mock-ups of the U.S. ships are part of a new target range developed by the People's Liberation Army.

China's navy and coast guard have been adding new vessels at a record pace and placing them primarily in the South China Sea, the strategic waterway that China controversially claims it controls in its virtual entirety.

China's recent test of a hypersonic missile capable of partially orbiting the planet before reentering atmosphere was also a shock to top U.S. military leaders.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, said the test came "very close" to being a "Sputnik moment," meaning that U.S. officials are feeling some fear that they have fallen behind their main adversary from a technological perspective.