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. Aliat

    Really? My long posts are blocked? Wth? Did I hit a collective-nerve or something? Seriously?

    December 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • OldGoat

      You got snagged by the superfluous malarkey filter.

      December 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. OldGoat

    Do the Chinese have any carrier-qualified pilots? If not, just where do they intend to go to get their pilots trained and qualified? Oh! I know! The USA will train them in exchange for some sort of financial consideration.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Aliat

    Ok, so this is what I'm getting so far, so long as you "China-Bash" then your posts will be fine and such, but the moment that you deviate from that angle then you're screwed right? So....What makes this crap no better than the Chinese Gov. Filters and Net-Police? Really? CNN needs to have a better way for us to personally track our responses.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aliat

    OldGoat, I'm starting to feel like I AM in Communist China what with this filter crap. Wonderful how we are becoming our own worst enemy!

    December 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. seg58

    Here we go again another country we have to watch, like we don't have anything ealse to do.

    December 15, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MOAR


    December 15, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gold Finger

    Really? We want to complain about their aircraft carrier being in the Yellow Sea when we have two of our own near there? Complain when its off the west coast of the US.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Limbaugh is a liberal

    How dare they! Patrolling international waters and decididing international law by threating other countries with instant strike capabilities is our job!

    December 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AW

    So they've figured out how to make lead float, huh? Awesome.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Aliat

    Alright, since the filter seems to screw me over like crazy:
    Condescension, Superiority-Complex, Undestimation of Enemies and Black-Listing people that don't automatically "China-Bash" with labels (Which probably triggered the sensors, err filters.) and Mob Mentality.
    Really thats all I usually see in regards to China in the news here in America, and I imagine the same anomaly happening over there in China in their forums or whatnot. I guess we're not so far off with a war with them afterall...

    December 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. saltpath2

    A Soviet built carrier left over from the '80's? Good luck with that.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Skeiron

      The oldest active carrier in the US Navy the USS Enterprise was commissioned in 1961, the production of the Varyag started in 1985.

      December 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The Real Bristol Palin

    I'm volunteering to be their morale officer.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Peter E

    China does not need to outgun us. It has very smartly stayed out of international politics. Instead, it's just buying up the world from under our noses. That's what we are truly worried about. Our military is useless in controlling the world if somebody else already owns it.
    China now has more holdings in the Middle East, Africa, and South America than us. By the end of this century they will own us directly too.
    But hey, American consumers spoke. They said, screw the American manufacturers, we just want cheap Chinese products!

    December 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Aliat

    I say we just go to war with them, get it over with once and for all. And when the smoke clears from post-apocalyptic nuclear war, then we won't be speaking either American or Mandarin, but probably any other small country that survives, lets say....Atlanteans! Oh crap, they don't really exist do they? Or probably got wiped out themselves if we believe the myths. Oh well, I guess we'll all be extinct to even care by then! LOL

    December 15, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. indifferent07

    Good for them, overspent on a missile magnet.
    Just as the battleship had its day, the 40s ended its reign at sea. Likewise, as airpower converts to non-manned aircraft, ships equipped to accommodate these UAV’s will likely be smaller, more nimble and stealthier. The day of the large carrier is likely in twilight.
    They just spent a ton of money on a floating target.

    December 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
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