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. LetsGetReal

    Much ado about very little. If the US navy was it's own country it would be among the largest and advanced militarily in the world. Like most things Chinese ... looks good ... but under further inspection not much to write home about. It should have been a casino.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • cwfusto

      I couldn't agree more! They're good at replicating but not to the point of actual performance.
      I won't be worried about a chinese navy until they actually devise a weapon that isn't something they copied, and works.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • arda

      reminds me the scene from lord of wars movie in which Nicholas cage were purchasing russian attack helicopters uninstalling guns and making it a rescue chopper in a minute. Oh wait this thing is REAL o_0

      December 15, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Canadian

      American today like whistle in the dark, telling others that they are Leader of the Free World, and this is American Century. For non-Americans, they find it amusing when US government has to shut down, and will shut down when your debt is up to your head. US is the biggest borrower in the world, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Realist

      You know, underestimating your enemy is the number one reason an empires fall. The Chinnesse dont need to edge us in thechnology since they make up that in sheer size (human , resources)

      December 15, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • International_observer

      The interest payment paid to the Chinese government by US government on US bond held by the Chinese would be sufficient to build ten air carriers of this kind. Chinese will keep building with interest payment earned on their US debts issued by Washington.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Devon

      Do you have a military background? I guess my question is, from the picture that was taken how do you know what the capabilities of the vessel is? I am a Navy Veteran. Other than housing the personell, Cariers are very basic vessels. Our vessels are considered "state of the art" not because they are by themselves war machines.. that is what the rest of the battlegroup is for. They are state of the art due to the luxury they offer the personell and how quickly they can launch and recover air craft (as well as being able to take a direct hit and not sink due to compartmental watertight integrity). Cariers have very basic self-defense weaponry. They rely on the rest of the battlegroup for protection so they can launch their aircraft which is essentially their offense.

      The main goal of an aircraft carier is to bring aircraft within striking range of any country. This aircraft will not be as pretty as ours are, but it accomplishes that goal just fine. Giving that information are you still not worried? This gives them a very expanded range of capability...prior to this they only had the capability to strike the US with long range missiles... now they have the capabilty to bring the dog fights to our back yard.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • China Man

      Look at China's history, never been a trouble maker, has always been stepped on and humiliated by other countries, this is just a show, announcing to the world that we are no more a wimp.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 1400millionVS308million

    China is investing heavily in Canadian resources and sending people there to manage their investments.
    There are only 38 million Canadians they can't defend their territory.
    They are spread out over the second largest country by area in the world.

    We need to annex Canada before Canada becomes "New China".

    December 15, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • ObjectiveOpinion

      It's ok. They won't be able to take the cold, and they'll never pick up the accent.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Geoz

      Nor does China have enough to defend Canada. They would have the same strategic issues. You are attempting to create alarm where there should be none.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • tmega

      annex Canada? This is why it is frightening and embarrassing to share a border with you ya-hoos.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • DeeNYC

      sounds like a southpark episode.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      correction...the usa is now the new china...who holds the american financial debt idiot?

      December 15, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Don't worry tmega, we tend to lock those ya-hoos up... that one seems to have escaped

      December 15, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • guest

      are you on drugs? annex Canada? so we should invade and take them over before China does? will we then adopt their universal health care program?!

      December 15, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Canadian

      We do not need racially-motivated and intellectual-zero comments from our neighbors in the south. US is no more than a nation in decline, heavily indulged in debt and partisan fights at the highest level.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Not ignorant like you

      Such a typical comment that only an ignorant American like you would utter. Canada is the largest US trade partner. Canada supplies the US with more oil than any other country in the world including Saudi Arabia. Canada was one of the first nations to send troops to Afghanistan after 911. Canada has an exemplary record in world wars and also in peace keeping. Canada's economy did not tank when the US did because it is better managed. Canadians see themselves as friends of the American people, but not stupid ones like you. Get an education before you comment, dolt.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Hunter

      China only holds about 2.6 trillion of us debt, not enough to worry about besides we could not pay them & there's nothing they can do about it

      December 15, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • 1400millionVS308million

      For sale :
      Large Resource base economy.
      Low debt 600 billion
      All bids accepted.

      Would make good business sense: 5 months of deficit spending would cover their debt.


      December 15, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Not ignorant like you

      Nice try but still ignorant.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Canadian Newfy

      There is no way I would have morgaged my Igloo over 40 years! Global warming would have melted it. We do have lots of oil though! I am sure you would love to annex that!

      December 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      It will be fine Canada is very self efficient and has allies some of the biggest countries as allies

      December 20, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bruce

    The Carrier is on this month's cover of a Chinese military magazine.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dennis

    This is a good thing. Now (if needed) we can take out a large asset with one strike: )

    December 15, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  5. Craig

    Carriers are so antiquated. You will never see another Midway, nowadays we could crush this thing 2 miles out of port.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • smartbomber

      Craig, you know not of what you speak. Midway or a battle like it has nothing to do with the value of aircraft carriers.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • TheThinker

      The notion "carriers are obsolete" is false, designed to reduce Navy spending with the goal of redirecting the funds to their social projects. Except for operations in that insignificant piece of dirt in the Himalayas, every operation since WW2 has benefitted from the high performance aircraft that a carrier can bring to bear. And let's not forget the humanitarian capabilities of a carrier when a disaster strikes.
      I will agree that carriers are obsolete when they actually become obsolete. If somebody can tell me what it is that obsoletes a carrier, and is a better, more economical way to project power, I'm all ears. Until then, nothin' beats a Nimitz.

      December 15, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • indifferent07

      I agree.......they 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 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joel

    Aww, you can hear the little guys on the ship singing carols!!! Just hear dose sreigh berrs ringaring ring ching tingaring too. Come on it's rovery weather fo ah sreigh ride togesha wish you.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrea M

      I'm intensely glad I wasn't taking a sip of coffee when I read that. Well done, sir!

      December 15, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • joe

      soooooo inappropriate but..... sooooooooo funny

      December 15, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • SpeaktheTruth101

      This is by far the comment of the day. I needed a good laugh. At least there are some people left in this world who still have a sense of humor

      December 15, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • TheThinker

      Did you know that nobody in China has Cataracts?

      ... they prefer Rincolns. 😉

      December 15, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    Phew....Russian built, need not worry.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • TheThinker

      hahhahahaha 🙂

      December 15, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. Portland tony

    The Chinese are using the Varyag to learn how to operate and maintain a conventional (not nuclear powered ) Aircraft carrier. You will notice from the photo, there are no aircraft onboard. That's because the Chinese have no operational carrier aircraft. This is a training device since and rudimentary in design . No reason for them not to have a carrier or two. We've got a 70 year head start

    December 15, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  9. jp

    Maybe they will have the junky Badger garbage disposal installed in the kitchen of this thing. It was made in China and stoped working after just two short years. Maybe they installed in and their sink will flood when it stops working, sinking the ship

    December 15, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. mommaearth

    Nothing to worry about,,,it's Made in China.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Actually Russia...

      December 15, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. Sybaris

    I wonder if it can make its own potable water. Those Russian Sailors were some stanky squids.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. Turp Griswald

    If it's like most of their goods, it'll last about six months. Then the Chinese navy will need to go down to WalMart to pick up a new one (with a low price guarantee!!).

    December 15, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. benjitsaurous

    They might have an aircraft carrier but no planes LOL.....

    December 15, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Sybaris

      Actually they do. Research works, try it sometime.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Andrea M

    Obviously the Chinese aren't dumb enough to attack us with an ancient, janky 3rd hand USSR built carrier that's probably held together with chewing gum and twine. In itself, the ship is hardly a threat. Of slightly more concern is this is essentially training wheels leading up to them having proper carriers. Not the most comforting thought on earth.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. JJ

    The Chinese can't even make milk the mothers of their children can trust, do you really think this is a threat to anyone but their own sailors? Please. Move on. Nothing to see here.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Sybaris

      Yeah milk..........aircraft carrier. I can see how the two are related. Go back to sleep.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
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