China now has the ability to project its power to places around the world.

US satellite gives first glimpse of China’s aircraft carrier

A commercial US satellite company has captured a photo of China’s first aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea off the Chinese coast.

The Chinese aircraft carrier Varyag is seen from space during its second sea trial in the Yellow Sea, approximately 100 kilometers south-southeast of the port of Dalian.

The aircraft carrier set sail from the northeastern port of Dalian

DigitalGlobe said one of its satellites photographed the carrier December 8 and that an analyst found the image Tuesday while searching through photos.

Stephen Wood, director of DigitalGlobe’s analysis center, said he was 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 sells satellite imagery and analysis to clients that include the US 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 Glaser, a China expert at the Centre 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.

The carrier’s progress is in line with the U.S. military’s expectations, said Commander Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Defence Department spokeswoman.

A report to Congress this year said the carrier could become operationally available to the Chinese navy by the end of next year but without aircraft.

“From that point, it will take several additional years before the carrier has an operationally viable air group,” she said.

Read report on The Telegraph.