U.S. satellite firm says it has first image of Chinese aircraft carrier
Digital Globe released this satellite image Wednesday, showing what it says is the first look at the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag.
December 15th, 2011
10:49 AM ET

U.S. satellite firm says it has first image of Chinese aircraft carrier

A photograph of what is purported to be China’s first aircraft carrier has renewed speculation about its military intentions, according to news reports.

U.S. satellite imaging firm Digital Globe said Wednesday on its website that it had captured an image that appears to be the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag during drills in the Yellow Sea.

The Varyag was reportedly constructed by the USSR in the 1980s but fell into the hands of the Ukraine. The Chinese purchased it sans weapons and navigation systems under the guise of wanting to turn the vessel into a casino, according to a BBC report in August.

Huntsman: China is 'no ally' of the U.S.

The sea trial is the second for the aircraft carrier, which roused international interest on November 29 when it left the port of Dalian in the Yellow Sea. Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said at the time that the military exercises were a "routine arrangement," Xinhua reported.

The sea drills are seen as a running display of military might for the Asian nation and come amid several recent high-profile provocations at sea.

Earlier this week the Yellow Sea was the site of a confrontation that resulted in a South Korean coast guard commando being stabbed to death and another injured after they boarded a Chinese fishing vessel they suspected of fishing illegally, CNN reported.

Recent military exercises there have raised awareness of Chinese aspirations in the face of the American naval presence in the region, experts say.

"By itself, the ship does not erode the credibility of America's military presence in the region nor greatly increase China's power projection capabilities. Nevertheless, the vessel is a potent symbol of China's aspirations to become a global maritime power and is yet another indication that the military balance of power is gradually shifting in China's favor," Dr. Ian Storey, of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, told the Guardian newspaper.

Last month the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review, presented annually to Congress, gave fresh warnings that China was conducting sea trials of its first aircraft carrier and developing anti-ship ballistic missiles.

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Filed under: China • Politics • World
soundoff (510 Responses)
  1. Jason B.

    I don't think they have any carrier-capable aircraft anyway.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lewis

      sink it so they will not need to aquire or build any.

      December 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. saywhat

    @ raj

    We are in the business of selling arms to whoever can dish out cash or supplying them wherever we want them used. So your proposition however good in intent is too nive.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Walt

      Whatever arms we sell, we are selling for profit. That profit can then be used to build the same arms that we just sold, plus more, all for ourselves.

      December 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. USN

    For all you idiots out there who are saying this carrier is made in China, you're wrong. It was made in the former Soviet Union and it is not diesel propulsion, it's either conventional steam or nuclear. It is obsolete compared to a Nimitz class carrier, but the Chinese can be expected to build off of the platform and integrate it with their own technology. This will only be the beginning of their own homegrown carrier fleet. The only way the US can keep ahead of the Chinese at sea is to pull all US interests out of China and start paying down the debt owed to them.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brad

      I think we need a plan B.

      December 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ambassador Spock

    That thing's going to need a LOT of sushi to support a full carrier's crew.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Dan

    Who cares....

    December 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Liqmaticus

    It would take China decades if not longer to even come close to our military might in the US. Not just in hardware, but all of the technical know-how and hands on training experience as well. What will take the USA down is itself if our government does not start agreeing on something and get rid of this no compromise partisan garbage.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Tanker

    What the Chinese Navy needs right now is 1,500 order of General Gau's Chicken, 3,500 order of mongolian beef, 5,500 egg rolls, and a ton and a half of fortune cookies, TO GO....

    December 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Big Brain

    A casino?

    December 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • schoolsub

      I'm betting that there won't be any betting!

      December 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. saywhat

    @ USN

    this is what precisely what the Chinese are doing.
    And then how do we start paying off the trillion plus dollar we owe them, having driven ourselves to the brink of bankruptcy? By getting into another war? Feeding our closest ally & preparing them to drag us into another disaster in the sands of Iran?
    Perhaps my esteemd fellow bloggers are not aware that half the population of US of A ( 146 million) are today living below poverty/low income. Homeless on the rise. A dramatic increase in the past insane decade of wars.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. palintwit

    How about a Chinese version of Sarah Palin ? She can be all mavericky and everything over there in Bejing.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Paul

    they have one Soviet era carrier and its a symbol that the "balance of power is shifting in China's favor"? Really?

    December 15, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tanker

      The Chinese have one Medium Carrier and the US is COMPLETELY SURROUNDED.

      Geez, now I know how the French think....

      December 15, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Freddy

      I had the same thought – is that guy cheerleading or anti-US or just bad at analizing data. The US won't sit idle either – technology moves forwards, you can't get ahead buying other's weapons and copying technology. China needs the US more than we need them – imagien if we stopped buy electronics and other "toys" form them....what would the US lose exactly?

      December 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Aliat

    A Chinese version of Sarah Palin? Yeah they're doomed if that happens.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Chink-in-my-armor

    No big deal.... they can't see over the dashboard anyway!!

    December 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Rick

    Something tells me they could build a fleets of these and still not touch a flotilla of Gerld R. Ford-class carriers.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Red

    I'm sure Huntsman is right about China not being an ally since he was Ambassador to China, he should know. While it's true that China does not present a threat to the U.S. all by themselves, the fact that they are allies with Russia, Iran and Syria do make them a threat if those countries decided to attack the U.S. In recent months when Iran threatened to send their warships to our east coast, both Russian and Chinese submarines where dotting our coastlines and it raise the hair on the back of my neck. Russia has been a major disappointment as they are two-faced, and China does not play fair with anyone. But the biggest problem is – Do we represent a threat to them? I have read things lately that led me to believe our government had plans to attack China and Iran but I don't think it was true. I haven't seen any sign of it coming directly from our leaders. Some people seem to be hard at work at creating a poor political climate between our countries. A chinese girl said we were being punished for sticking our nose in other countries business. Do we spend too much time in China's waters with our military presence? Our intentions may be to maintain peace and stability in a region, but maybe other countries don't see it that way. After all, do we perceive Russian submarines on our coast as maintaining peace and stability in the region? Not.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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