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Satellite gets picture of Chinese carrier

By Dan Elliott

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:59 a.m. HST, Dec 14, 2011

DENVER >> A commercial U.S. satellite company said it has captured a photo of China's first aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea off the Chinese coast.

DigitalGlobe Inc. said Wednesday one of its satellites photographed the carrier on Dec. 8. A DigitalGlobe analyst found the image on Tuesday while searching through photos.

Stephen Wood, director of DigitalGlobe's analysis center, said he's confident the ship is the Chinese carrier because of the location and date of the photo. The carrier was on a sea trial at the time.

DigitalGlobe, based in Longmont, Colo., sells satellite imagery and analysis to clients that include the U.S. military, emergency response agencies and private companies. DigitalGlobe has three orbiting satellites and a fourth is under construction.

The aircraft carrier has generated intense international interest because of what it might portend about China's intentions as a military power.

The former Soviet Union started building the carrier, which it called the Varyag, but never finished it. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it ended up in the hands of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic.

China bought the ship from Ukraine in 1998 and spent years refurbishing it. It had no engines, weaponry or navigation systems when China acquired it.

China has said the carrier is intended for research and training, which has led to speculation that it plans to build future copies.

China initially said little about its plans for the carrier but has been more open in recent years, said Bonnie S. Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"It wasn't until the Chinese actually announced they were sending it out on a trial run they admitted, 'Yes, we are actually launching a carrier,'" she said.

China publicly announced two sea trials for the carrier that occurred this year, she said.

Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia, said earlier this year the carrier could become operationally available to the Chinese navy by the end of next year but without aircraft.

"It will take a number of additional years for an air group to achieve the sort of minimal level of combat capability aboard the carrier that will be necessary for them to start to operate from the carrier itself," Schiffer said in August.

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Carang_da_buggahz wrote:
A satellite pic? Ho hum. I can assure you, the U.S. Navy has at least one submarine tailing this newest Chinese threat and has already conducted numerous attack drills while doing so.
on December 14,2011 | 09:02AM
inverse wrote:
What is powering this Chinese aircraft carrier? Is it a compact nuclear reactor like US subs and aircraft carriers? US better step up in keeping this US nuclear and other aircraft carrier technology safe from being stolen and sold to the Chinese. Just like years ago, US submarine stealth or propeller technology that was stolen and obtained by Chinese nationals.
on December 14,2011 | 09:27AM
mitt_grund wrote:
The former Varyag is conventionally powered. The Chinese are planning three other carriers that will be more than likely nuclear powered. Japan and India will have three carriers. Five other countries have 1 or 2 carriers, even Thailand. So, if you are apprehensive about China, think of India with a nuclear carrier named the M. Gandhi or a Japanese carrier called New Nippon. All three nations have mastered nuclear power and weaponry. Now all we need is for Pakistan to do build its own carriers to defend against India. Look there for future conflict. Maybe Iran will lend Pakistan the money to do so, or maybe, or just maybe it will be the U. S. in appreciation of the great "loyalty" and hekp shown by Pakistan in getting bin Laden.
on December 14,2011 | 08:24PM
sloturle wrote:
wheres the planes?
on December 14,2011 | 09:49AM
mitt_grund wrote:
None yet. The vessel is undergoing sea trials. Chinese pilots will need to be trained, with type of fighter to be determined. The Varyag is based in Dalian, a seaport in Liaoning the province in northeast China that is on the boundary with North Korea..
on December 14,2011 | 12:05PM
kukaikid wrote:
blow it up and blame it on the ninjas. china hates ninjas!
on December 14,2011 | 11:27AM
SMUUG wrote:
on December 14,2011 | 02:32PM
Kalli wrote:
There's a lot more to sea power projection than one aircraft carrier. It might be a useful ship for them to begin to modernize their fleet but one carrier does not make a Navy presence. France, Australia, Great Britain all had aircraft carriers and they all became obsolete and too expensive to operate. At best it's China's attempt to get the world to believe they will become a top tier Navy but they have a long way to go to catch up to the U.S. Navy. Not likely.
on December 14,2011 | 12:42PM
inverse wrote:
Thats right, aircraft carriers, advanced manned fighter jets like the F-22, Joint strike fighter, even the $2 billion B-2 stealth bomber, etc. are/have become obsolete in today's threats facing the US. It is missiles and anit-missile technology that are the threat that the US will face against Iran, China, North Korea, etc. Cruise missiles, supersonic cruise missiles, stealth cruise missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles, etc. US should stop wasting money on manned fighter jets, the Osprey, etc. and continue to develop better missiles (or torpedos from a US sub) to sink China's aircraft carrier or other warships and continue to develop laser technology (ie "death ray") for both and defensive purposes against enemy missile technology.
on December 14,2011 | 01:16PM
mitt_grund wrote:
The carrier is more a political gesture - to show China's move to protect its interests in Asia and South East Asia, meant primarily for consumption by its neighbors. Simply put, U. S. is seen as the 800 lb. gorilla in Asia, one that is both hated and loved - depending on need. China is simply saying it''s coming of age. If aircraft carriers are obsolete, U. S. has a lot invested in them. There are 11 of them out there, and the USS Gerald Ford is currently being built to make it 12. Meanwhile, China has developed an anti-aircraft carrier missile that the USN is feverishly trying to counter with its own anti- missile missile. Yes, we are still developing aircraft carriers and ways to defend them.
on December 14,2011 | 06:27PM
tsboy wrote:
the day is getting closer to the showdown with China over who will be the dominant power in the world. will our politicians have the balls to stand up to China, that is the question.
on December 14,2011 | 06:38PM
SteveToo wrote:
Not Obama that's for sure!
on December 14,2011 | 11:01PM
inverse wrote:
There are two 'fronts' that the US must maintain theit lead and continue to be string against against countries like China. That is the military power AND the financial power of the US. That is why Obama is a failure trying ti socialize the US and not focus on keeping US financially strong against a country like China. China is will test, probe and if they can, conquer the US on the financial front and the result of that, like former Soviet Union, their military while self destruct. Thats is why the growing US debt at the federal and State level has to be addressed because they are intertwined with this global 'battle' with our competittors/enemies like China and now add Pakistan after the US mistakenly killed thei soldiers with a drone. So US appropriate long term counter move is to develop laser technology that will render missile technology obsolete AND try to weaken China's financial strength by making sure money flows more to the US then China by getting a handle on the US/ China trade deficit. On a side note, it shows just how ignorant/naive for out local businesses/State officials to think that 'big money' will be made from Chinese nationals to vacation in Hawaii. There is a titanic battle between our two countries in military and finances and thinking Hawaii will bridge this gap by making having the feds waive Visa requirements for Chinese visitors or not abruptly stop China to hawaii flights by the Chinese gov't shows our state gov't leaders ignorance, including Lingle who originally thought this was a good idea.
on December 15,2011 | 03:53AM
Manapua_Man wrote:
Dang! So that's what the profits from the money we spend on fireworks go to... building a Chinese aircraft carrier.
on December 15,2011 | 05:43AM
BigOpu wrote:
Sea trial today, tomorrow...? Greed can really suck.
on December 15,2011 | 07:51AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Is it made out of melamine?
on December 15,2011 | 10:35AM
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