Satellite Spots First Chinese Aircraft Carrier
Secretive Beijing ship was on a test run
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 14, 2011 4:26 PM CST
This Dec. 8 satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag sailing in the Yellow Sea.   ((AP Photo/DigitalGlobe) MANDATORY CREDIT)
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(Newser) – A commercial US satellite company said it has captured a photo of China's first aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea off the Chinese coast. DigitalGlobe said one of its satellites photographed the carrier on Dec. 8. The Varyag wasn't up to anything suspicious, but was merely on a trial run. Still, the photo has drawn interest because of speculation of what the carrier might mean for China's military strength.

China bought the ship from Ukraine in 1998 and spent years refurbishing it. Beijing 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.