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. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    If the satellite could see the side of the vessel, maybe it would say something on it. Like "save money..live better".

    December 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Aliat

    Well, that took awhile to get pass the filters, but there it is. Enjoy history repeating itself in a massive scale.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. saywhat

    Chinese would have little work cut out for them if we elect the likes of Newt Gingrich as our leader.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JMO

    All a part of their plan to flood the world with cheap aircraft carriers.

    December 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Smack

      LOL! Good one.

      December 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Big Smack

    Let's see. Our first carrier, the Langley 1922. China's first carrier (Russian) 2011. We have a slight edge in experience here, say 89 years? Is there a problem?

    December 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ron

    Google Earth;
    22~33'13.00"N 114~14'12.61"E Carrier-Destroyer, Chinese
    36~06'20.35"N 120~35'01.15E Chinese submarine tunnel. Don't know if they build them, or store them there. More subs in this bay.

    December 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pacifist

    Why can't the US and China just be friends? If the two supper power become true allies, wouldn't the world be much better?

    December 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • dentate

      Sure. The two "supper power" should have dinner together.

      December 16, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick James

      mmm... take out

      December 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ToughEnough

    The saber rattling begins against the world's soon to be #1 superpower. How foolish. An aircraft carrier can be destroyed in seconds with modern long range missiles. Its the same as taking a knife to a gun fight, but our politicians will use to try and extract more money in taxes so the transfer of wealth can continue.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Yeah right.

    As if the Chinese can't afford a brand new aircraft carrier.

    December 16, 2011 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. oh no

    it might get recalled for containing lead. 🙂

    December 16, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. beep boop

    So many people want a new cold war. Why is this a big deal? China has one aircraft carrier, just like France, Italy, Thailand, Brazil, India etc. People are just ignorant of how many countries actually have one or two aircraft carriers. In contrast the United States has 11 supercarriers and 20 total, counting the "amphibious assault ships" that are easily a match for other nation's carriers. One secondhand carrier on a sea trial isn't scary. Don't listen to sources that stand to profit from making you afraid.

    December 16, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Ha! Our supercarriers and easily a match for some nations! This is ridiculous.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mike k.

    two stroke!

    December 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Calimouse

    Chinese aircraft carriers are not a threat to launch any aircraft. As a people, they are incapable of exceding 25mph.

    December 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Matt

    Dont worry – it will fall apart like every other chinese creation.

    December 16, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Stephen Bain

    Don't underestimate china, they don't need Aircraft carriers to take over the world the thought of what could happen scares me especially with so many Chinese people living all over the world.

    December 16, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
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