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. RickR

    Oh, they're just practicing moving it around so they can sail to every seaport and prove to the world it's just a great big casino. Then they can say they're "plane dealers". (^o^)

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

      It would have done them more good if they had followed through with the casino plan. This old tub isn't going to impress anyone.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • U.S.A4Life

      So they are not comming to attack Us? Bc They are so unpredictable

      December 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob Shaft

    China is not a military power at all. This one Carrier is antiquated and NOTHING like the Naval prescense of the U.S. Let me explain.
    1. This so called "Super Carrier" is DIESEL powered whilst the U.S. Has ELEVEN (11) True SUPER CARRIERS that are all NUCLEAR powered.
    2 This ship has NO battle Group while all 11 U.S. Super Carriers have battle groups complete with NUCLEAR SUBMARINES, Missile ships, destroyers supported by an ocean wide SONAS radar system that tracks every war vessle in the world.
    3. Chinese Planes are old obsolete and would be totally ineffective against the United States Naval Air Squadrons that are decades ahead of Chinese air craft that primarily are not even made in China. They use Russian MIGS.
    4. The idea of an "Aircraft Carrier" reached its height during WWII. The idea of a ship with planes on board has become an obsolete one. Aircraft carriers are huge targets that would be lost early on in any conflict, destroyed by supersonic missile attacks. The true iron of a modern military force is the NUCLEAR SUBMARINE of which the U.S. has more than Seventy (70) in service.

    If a war broke out this ship would be sunk before it got to international waters. The U.S. Probably could take this vessle out with just the National Guard and the Coast Guard working in Tandem. It is just nuts to think people actually think China is doing something here. They could barely lay siege to a pitiful African Nation with this wreck...

    December 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hoopla


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

      yea!!!! i'm gonna take it out with a slingshot!

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

      Awesome post there Bob.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      There a total of 21 carriers operational in the world today. This is one of them, so it is kind of a big deal.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • FrankinSD

      This ship is about as much a threat to the US Navy as the cruiser Belgrano was to the Brits during the Falklands war. And for you history buffs, that cruiser was actually a survivor of Pearl Harbor (the USS Phoenix).

      December 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Also the submarine is the out-dated technology not the carrier. The nuclear missile sub is almost solely useful for starting a nuclear war with the Soviets although they can be useful for launching cruise missiles, there are plenty of other ways to deliver such weapons systems.

      This carrier will allow China to continue its aggressive stance in the South China Sea. Note that the only other Asian nations with carriers are Thailand and the Thai carrier is a V/STOL so it can't even handle conventional aircraft.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • wonderbott

      How old are you?

      December 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • AlexG

      Fine points.

      You forgot that we lost a war in Vietnam to antiquated bolt-action rifles and old ammunition. If any opponent to American might and technology has will and determination we will be in for one heck of fight.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Skeiron

      Nuclear submarines are nice if you want to deploy em to the other end of the world, but to control the Yellow Sea with attack submarines the Chinese should rather develop submarines equipped with technologies like fuel cells.
      A nuclear reactor produces heat, is huge and needs cooling pumps which inevitably make some noise, whereas fuel cells produce no heat, are small and produce no noise.
      Thus an attack submarine equipped with fuel cells is basicallly better than a nuclear powered submarine for defending your own coast and areas close to it.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Yes, this is just a baby step but I think the point of the article is that the Chinese are going to enormous trouble to take baby steps towards an endgoal of regional or global military power. It shows how badly they want to be players.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • C.Brown

      This is nothing more than a show of force. As Bob has stated this thing would not make a bit of difference in an actual confrontation with the U.S. I served 8 years in the Marine Corps and traveled around the world with the U.S. NAVY and this on carrier dosen't hold a candle to our Nuclear fleet and our carrier battle groups. A carrier is only as powerful as its battle group, weapon systems and the aircraft onboard. Being concerned about this would be like fearing someone building a gun with no bullets its nothing more than a toy for show.

      December 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sybaris

      Bob, quit watching the Military Channel. It makes you look ignorant.

      December 15, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • NotConcerned

      Exactly. Just an opinion, but if we stopped sticking our noses into other sovereign nations' business, we probably would have less reason to worry about other countries military gear. I mean seriously, who's going to attack Canada? (other than to get to us) I'm no isolationist, and certainly not a liberal, but even I can see that we should stop trying to police the world and focus on problems at home. Albeit, it might be hard to do now that we've been sticking our hands into every global cookie jar we can find.

      Personally, I'm more worried about China's economic global influence...

      December 15, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • amphiox

      Bob's points are correct, but pretty much true for every aircraft carrier in the world that is not part of the US Navy.

      For the Chinese, this is a symbol to bludgeon its Asian neighbours, who don't have any carriers, with. They're basically saying to them "you'll need the US to protect you from us in the event of a dispute, and just how confident are you that the Americans will always be reliably in your corner?"

      As for the US, the Chinese have never had any intention of a direct confrontation. It's all about balance of power in the South China Sea. They're saying "yes we know that if it came to a fight you would crush us right now, or any time in the next 50 years, but you're going to have to pay to do so, and just how much are you willing to pay to project your power into an area that is far away and only of peripheral interest to you, but in our backyard and of vital interest to us? Sure you can sink our carrier, but you'll need to expend money, munitions, men, and take risks to do so? How much are you willing to pay? The area is our backyard and we are willing to pay as much for it as you would for San Francisco. Are you willing pay as much as you would to defend San Francisco to defend Taiwan?"

      December 15, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    ok, so who gives?

    December 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. 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 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • crazypete

      Don't tell me what to do. I'll be a pawn of CNN if I wanna. So there.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    Oh boy. Can't wait to see how many little Yellow heads get chopped and planes ditched and crashed THAT first year...Imagine trying to figure out something like a catapult with NO experience.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JoeT

    An aircraft carrier indeed. Yet in an era that has shown the value in asymmetric warfare, it's curious China would invest in this, considering how fond of Silkworm missiles it is– it is entirely unlikely any carrier, regardless of nationality, could survive a sortie by a swarm of cruise missiles. Methinks the carrier has more propaganda and moral value than military. What I would truly appreciate, however, would be a US response that includes one-upping the Chinese in the fields of high-speed rail and renewable energy production.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      A carrier is primarily a tool of empire not of actual warfare. This will allow them to monitor/haze/intimidate shipping in the South China Sea as this beast will basically be the only game in town. The purpose of an aircraft carrier today is not the same as the purpose of an aircraft carrier in WW2.

      December 15, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • wonderbott

      This is the first intelligent comment I read. Any wepon other than missiles with fantastic guidence and targeting system is a waste of money – only serves the pupose of showing off.

      December 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. MAC

    First, if the carrier is on seatrials it does not need the aircraft onboard until they do carrier qualifications. Also the planes may be in the hanger deck. If you really think China is a friend, you have not seen their true intentions of being a dominant seapower.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DerpDiggler

    News from this morning:
    U.S. officially ends Iraq mission with flag lowering

    News I'm reading now:
    China is 'no ally' of the U.S.

    Welp, back to war we go!!

    December 15, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Commissioner of common sense

      Doesnt anyone get it? War is a multi-billion dollar business.

      December 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mfx3

    Turn it into a casino? Well, it's certainly a gamble that the Chinese are going to lose very soon.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. i_know_everything

    nothing to see here ppl, move on

    December 15, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. stupidhuntsmen

    Huntsmen is not an American. Hunstmen have you ever been to China? Stop your cold-war mindset. Sounds like you are turning US into an Iron curtain. this is silly. So in your definition what is US ally? is it a country that does US's bidding called US allies? So to be US ally, a country cannot have any technology that makes US feels threatened. You are acting like a jealous boyfriend. Or maybe China has bigger penis and it makes you feel insecure.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • rWEEQUAL1

      @stupidhuntsmen, If you only knew what you were talking about. Huntsmnan was the US Ambassador in China so I think he has a good idea what the chinese are about and what there intentions are. Whether you agree with him or not. So answer your own question have you been to China?

      December 15, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jk

    Maybe now it will invade the U.S. to establish a democracy.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sammy

    "enewed speculation about its military intentions"

    Yes – and everybody knows that only US can have military intentions.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GordonZ

    Any country having an advanced weapon is a threat to US, according many good journalists' reports and many comments here. Are we USA the superpower in the world or weakest country in the world?

    December 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Aliat


    "We have the GOP to thank for this yellow filth."
    Racist Filth....You're no different from the same racist Chinese ilk on the other side of the world. You should breed with them and make ultra-racist babies.


    "Its time to invade China. Its the only way to get back all the jobs they took. Plus it will boost our economy and stop them from making cheap knock off Viagra coated with lead paint."

    Yes, lets start by sending YOU to war with them. Easy for you to talk about war like its the good ol' WWII days, there's a reason why today's powers don't openly go to war with each other, simply put, they will annihilate each other and coincidentally give other rising powers the chance to be the new powers. That is if any others survive, so yes go ahead and go to China and declare war on them Randy, I'd love to see them Nuke your butt in their prisons ten-times over.


    "It's not a real threat...yet. Maybe after we send 'advisers' to show them how to train their crews to use it. Maybe they already have some in our Navy, learning the techniques to pass on to their countrymen."

    Sorry to say this Jake2055, but nations friendly or hostile from the dawn of history has used espionage to gain whatever edge they can get from others, in anyway shape or form, America is no different. We WILL and we DO have people in other countries including our Allies watching them and learning about their techniques.

    December 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
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