Satellite Image Reveals China Blew Up Mock Japan Warplane Amid Taiwan Invasion Fears
There’s increasing concern a possible Chinese annexation of Taiwan would fundamentally challenge Japan’s security and result in a broader conflict.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) understands an invasion of Taiwan would likely result in conflict with Japan because only 110 kilometers (68 miles) is Japan’s westernmost inhabited island of Yonaguni.
Japanese leaders have linked Taiwan’s security with Japan’s, enabling the country to play a role in Taiwan’s defense. As a result, the PLA launched a missile(s) at mock Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) aircraft in a desert area in northwest China called Xinjiang, according to Nikkei, citing a report from Planet Labs.
Nikkei examined photos taken by Planet Labs, a U.S.-based satellite operator. Photographs of the same location in mid-May showed an object shaped like an E-767, an airborne warning and control system (AWACS) used by the SDF, a runway and buildings resembling a tarmac. A July 13 photo shows the destroyed object, along with debris and black burn marks.
Previous satellite photographs showed the object was still in place as of July 2. The precise timing is not clear because of weather conditions that prevented photography on some days, but it appears that the object was destroyed in early July. It is the first time that an object mimicking an SDF aircraft is known to have been destroyed. -Nikkei
“I think we can safely conclude this was a test of a ballistic missile of some sort,” said Jeffrey Lewis, professor at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and a specialist in the military analysis of satellite photos, referring to what appears to be a mock Boeing E-767 AWACS used by SDF.
Tom Shugart, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, also reviewed the images and concluded a missile might have been used:
“If the purpose of the mock target was to test the ability of a missile warhead to recognize and strike specific high-value aircraft, and that capability was in fact tested successfully, then deployment of such a weapon could improve the PLA’s ability to strike key aircraft like the E-767.”
It’s unclear precisely what the PLA used to target the mock AWACS or surrounding aircraft. Kiyofumi Iwata, former chief of staff of the Japan Ground SDF, said there are no impact craters, suggesting the “AWACS object may have been set ablaze, rather than hit by a missile.”
PLA forces also built a mock U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers last year in the same desert area for weapons testing. Nikkei said the “aircraft carrier was found to have marks that experts said were made by missile impacts.”
If an invasion of Taiwan is planned, it seems China recognizes that Japan and the U.S. could be drawn into the fight. That’s why China and Russia aligned and conducted a joint military exercise last month between the island of Yonaguni and Taiwan.
Fri, 07/15/2022 – 22:00