Photographed During Sea Trial Off The Chinese Coast
A satellite belonging to a Colorado company has captured an
image of China's first aircraft carrier during sea trials off the
Chinese coast in the South China Sea. DigitalGlobe Inc. posted the
image on its website Wednesday, and analyst Stephen Wood told the
Associated Press that the location and date of the photo make him
confident it is of the Chinese ship.
2006 Chinese Government Photo
The Chinese government purchased the hull of the ship from
Ukraine in 1998 with no engines, weapons, or or navigation systems.
The Chinese refurbished the vessel over three years, and say now it
is intended for research use. The government did not even admit
that it had the ship until it announced it was going to sea.
That has led to speculation that the Chinese may be attempting
to reverse-engineer the aircraft carrier to be able to build one of
their own. The AP reports that the U.S. DoD says it could be made
operational by the end of next year, but no aircraft are currently
available for the ship. A DoD spokesman said in an e-mail that it
would likely be several more years before the carrier would be
"operationally viable" as a warship.