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. Dan

    Did it have a banner on it saying "Taiwan or Bust!"?

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

      It might, this is such a bad picture you couldn't tell unless they spray painted it across the entire launch area.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Johnny B Good

    I am with Kurtinco, i really don't understand how it "tips" the scales, but it does show they are willing to produce, but china has ALOT to do before coming the table as a superpower, they are destroying the enviroment of China, and the people with it. The Air quality there is horrible, and it is having a devestating effect on the people, lung and lung related illnesess are on an amazing increase, you cannot hope to become a superpower when your people are dieing from your ignorance.

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

      China has enough human resources that air cleaniness or lung disease shouldn't be a problem. Just make more people

      December 15, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Not ignorant like you

    Not worth a response except for you can't afford it.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. Byrd

    Oh, gee, but that must have been a tough shot to get, considering they can photograph a postage stamp from space. Looks more like the DoD is just stirring up the fear factor again getting ready for their next war...aided and abetted by CNN, among others.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • LifeinVA

      You need to lay off that conspiracy theory kool aid for a while Byrd...

      December 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ARFF

      Do you folks even READ the articles before just making comments. DOD had nothing to do with this photograph. It was from Digital Global, a private company.. Heaven forbid one reads into the second paragraph.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steph

      I do think the picture is impressive. Not because of the image itself but because they were able to track down an aircraft carrier on the open ocean from space. That's really amazing. Like finding a needle in a haystack if it was truly random.

      December 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Don

    The shoe is on the other foot this time. The USA normally uses China to make things. Now, American debt payments to China has paid for a nice new shiny boat.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. No Return

    China in many ways is as scary as the Nazi's. They are brutal, oppressing, and ambitious. Have you seen how they treat their own? Imagine them in war. Something may need to be done if they continue to show these "hidden" signs of armament.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • leelay

      hidden sighn's of armament?? those arent by any means hidden to the united states government. its just when they decide to show it to you for propaganda use. how long do you think these discoveries are logicaly in the pipe before they get to the news?? this and many other sighns of armament are present in china and any other place in the world.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mike

    In comparison, the U.S. has 11, with two new Ford Class under construction.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. America above parties

    You guys are dismissing too much about Chenese made. Just look at your iPhone 4S–yes, made in china. Think about where they are NOW (from 15 years ago) and how far they could GO in next 10 years. Who would have thought they are our banker lending us trillions 15 years ago. America, STOP in-fighting. Wake up and put all our interest in this great country (while it is) to stay that way...

    December 15, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim Bob

      Good points, all. Thanks!

      December 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • smartbomber

      Who are they going to get to drive the thing??? If the operate a carrier like they do an automobile nothing on the high seas is safe... i see an eighteen ship pile up in the future...

      December 15, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheMovieFan

      Could you explain what your name and your opinion have to do with each other? It may have been lost when it was translated from Chinese to English.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. angryersmell


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

      Well the Bismarck sank the HMS Hood and would've sunk the Prince of Wales as well if Lütjens would've decided to chase it.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AustinGuy

    All the sailors on board this cheap American knockoff will probably die from lead poisoning.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. James

    want to stop chinese ambition? Ban Chinese Imports....

    December 15, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. LOL

    Who cares, see that MADE IN CHINA sign on it? Yeah, that will sink to the bottom of the ocean when the cheap plastic bolts break next week.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TC

    america funds china's growth. they are dependent upon us, take the usa out of the equation and they can even afford to put gas in that tub. no way they are that dumb to bite the hand that feeds them

    December 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Just_One

    A Soviet era refurbished made in China aircraft carrier that can be seen from space is supposed to be some nerve rattling secret weapon? Hey, more power to them.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. the dude

    China has a loooooooong way to go. They are so behind the curve at this point despite what the media will have you believe. The goal of the media is either to make you fearful or to make you consume. Both local and national media. I am now scared and I want to go buy Apple products for some reason... oh crap...

    December 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
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