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. Rob

    Pretty bad they wont even buy anything made in china

    December 15, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • tiddingwright

      Regarding aircraft on deck, didnt you knuckleheads read the part about SEA TRIALS, as in testing.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gaadffly

    Anbody notice anything unusual??? No aircraft on board. Nice to have all that room on the flight deck, hahaha !!!!!

    December 15, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • STEVE

      China has plenty of aircraft. They are obviously stowed below the flight deck, as we do. Or maybe the aircraft are flying in and practicing landings.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      That is how sea trials work ... first few tests have limited crew, no aircraft and no weapons.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Aircraft carriers typically do not have planes when they are near their own coast, they go off shore and then the planes fly on before operations. Also, its probably better to leave the planes off during 'sea trials', that is when they are testing the ship in any crazy fashion they can think of.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Well you can't exactly go buy F/A 18's with CARRIER GEAR AND HOOKS in a year, can you?

      December 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • blahblahblah

      Looks like they are just doing sea trials, similar to how our carriers do following refurbishment. They are just checking out the ship before putting billions of dollars worth of planes on-board.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ObamaJoe

    aircraft carrier with no aircraft ??????????????

    What's that for ???????????????

    December 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. randy

    It it powerd by rowers like in Water World. They have enough people to use as rowers and save on fuel.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. STEVE

    Pretending to buy it for a casino?? Wow.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Garrett

    You've got to be kidding me... One outdated aircraft carrier is supposed to present a threat? So they have an aircraft carrier and one stealth jet and you people think they are going to invade? I know we can't get lazy and start thinking that nothing bad will ever happen to this country, but at the same time we cannot overreact when a country that is 30+ years behind us in military tech refurbishes an old Russian aircraft. For God's sake people, they only recently got a space program up and running... Don't let the media scare you, china is no threat and there is no need for more bloodshed.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • STEVE

      Nobody said anything about an invasion.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Garrett

      Steve, you obviously haven't been reading many of these comments... it's crazy how the media can turn the masses into a scared frenzy.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • randy

      I mentioned the invasion not of us but, us to invade them. Sure its a piece of floating out dated poop but we need to teach them a lesson.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jared

      ur right about that... When are people going to wake up and stop being ignorant? it's just CNN trying to get a story. There is no actual cause for alarm. They are just blowing this way out of proportion for the point of getting readers.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jared

      @randy – teach them a lesson about what exactly? Not building up outdated defenses that could never hope to stand up to ours? They have other enemies you know... not just US. They have the right to defenses and to try to advance their own technology. Why do we have to do anything to them for that??? Don't be a pawn of CNN.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fedupwithla

    "Varyag" means "WalMart" in Chinese, and we can thank all of you holiday shoppers out there for buying their junk this holiday season to fund their new military toy. Ho, ho, ho!

    December 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    Anyone can own a paintbrush, but only an artist can utilize it to it's full potential. No one can beat the US in the art or war.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • FHBOY

      Define "war". The Terrorists have learned how to fight a war on an economic level, to wit: a low tech bomb, an attempted aircraft bombing which costs very little have forced the nations of the world, and the US, billions of dollars to upgrade equipment and procedures to defend against this. That is a very sophisticated war: using economics to weaken an enemy [we did it to the USSR in Afghanistan, but on a smaller scale]. As to ground wars, the paradigm of the 20th century is over, there is no great battle locale, and in that, the US is just learning how to deal. I am a proud American, support our troops, but I'm afraid the 21st Century has given us a new kind of war, fought on fronts other than a battlefield, and we are no longer unbeatable in the aret of war.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • palintwit

      Except the North Vietamese and the Afghan/Taliban.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      And yet....it is the Chinese that wrote the book "The Art of War" which is read by every single military general in the world

      December 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gravity7

    Reblogged this on Gravity7.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • no

      that's great. want a biscuit?

      December 15, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. norker

    and why shouldn't they aspire to be a world power? they were before, they can do it again.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Wilson

    I am noticing what everyone else is. An aircraft carrier with no planes. Makes me wonder what kind of drills they are doing? It's like making a peanut butter sandwich with no peanut butter.

    Seems strange to me.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cykill

    knew for years this was coming. we're paying for that carrier, so don't complain when they have 8 of them. i've been saying it over and over we are paying for the Chinese to modernize and expand thier military. stupid. this isn't over...coming soon,Amphibious ships for landing Chinese marines...trust me it's going to happen.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mike johnson

    Why are we acting so surprised? Of course they will build up their military.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    It will take the Chinese 30+ years to even figure out how to conduct safe carrier ops. Remember we literally wrote the BOOK on how to do it right. One empty carrier flying around with a few Mig29's on it wont mean much, for a long, long time. My guess is they'll park that sucker after they figure out that it's expensive, difficult, and requires an entirely new skill set...You can't get 70 years of experience like we have, at ANY price.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pete

    It's funny how they're using this to get us scared of China. It's their first aircraft carrier! And they bought it second hand from the Russians without modern systems. We're still head and shoulders above them in naval power, not even close.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • FHBOY

      Pete, I'd like to think that only the "chicken littles" are running around. I hope that mature minds and politicians (is that possible) and leaders are taking a breath a figuring out what this one carrier can mean, not tomorrow, not next year, but ten years from now. Unfortunately, it seems the US is not too good at long range thinking.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
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