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American Naval Targets in the Chinese Desert

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The Then

Japan, during the uneasy peace from 1937-41, both the US and Japan were on somewhat friendly terms and embassies existed in both countries. The usual international deals were in the making despite the US ignoring the fact that Japan was building up its naval forces and aircraft (not to mention their Army). In fact, the Japanese were all along planning an attack (after Hitler had approached them before 1938) on China and the US outpost at Hawaii. America was oblivious to it all then, as Japan was 7000 miles away where the Japanese had military exercises to hone in their skills of aircraft carrier landings and take-offs, dive bombing of dummy ships, learning flying techniques with advanced and superior aircraft. It was several years this went on until mid-1941. The rest is history.

The Now

Fast forward to late 2021. History is repeating in some ways. China is taking a page from the Japanese playbook. It has denied that there are no actual plans to invade the runaway Taiwan province, which broke off in 1948. But on the other hand, it also implies or strategy purposes, that it will invade and take over the island unless Taiwan returns under the control of the Chinese Communist Party voluntarily. As the time goes by, like the Japanese did, China is continuing its massive military build up and capabilities. If there is doubt, just look how their military was in 2005, in 2010. The West had nothing to worry about but that is not the case now. This buying of time is greatly helping the Chinese until they are confident of seizing Taiwan and many experts feel it will be around 2025, when it will finally come to pass.

Carriers in the Desert

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The latest proof and one that IS the Red Flag or warning to America are the images from intelligence satellites showing a mockup of a US aircraft carrier and a destroyer in the remote Chinese desert. It is used for training in a variety of ways, such as, identification from high altitudes and target practice. The area has been used for ballistic missile targeting and there is little question that one purpose is to practice using their DF21D anti ballistic missile, which they claim they can do. The area also has a rail system used to simulate a moving ship target that is towed. This practice would be helpful in target acquisition as naval ships are moving all the time.

In July 2019, the PLARF conducted its first-ever confirmed live-fire launch into the South China Sea, firing six DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles into the waters north of the Spratly Islands. In 2020, they targeted a moving decoy ship, which they claimed to have sunk.

China has so many anti-ship missiles dwarfing what the USN has. Their DF26 uses multiple warheads. The naval mockups could also be used for target acquisition from their new naval ships armed with anti-ship missiles and also their H-6 bombers that can carry them as well.

In a war over Taiwan, China will use these anti-ship missiles to keep the US carriers far away to prevent their aircraft from being used effectively to aid Taiwan. As most war games on the topic reveal, in most scenarios, China could invade and control the island despite losses. They can pretty much also destroy the military facilities there within a week with just missiles. The question then comes, would America and its allies be willing to sacrifice their own to defend Taiwan knowing it is a losing proposition in the long run?

A similar question came before Hitler in 1941 when his planners had prepared detailed invasion plans of England, which stood alone. Hitler was very tempted and it seemed the outcome might be their favor except for providing air cover. After the Germans lost the air war over England in 1941, Hitler wisely tabled the plan and turned against Russia.

Taiwan is the immediate objective for China and they cannot refuse such temptation for a variety of reasons, which is why war will come within next five years. But for now, it's peace and practice skills.

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