December 15, 2011
DigitalGlobe Inc. announced Wednesday that one of its satellites photographed the Chinese aircraft carrier the Shi Lang.
Dan Elliott of the Associated Press reports the carrier is in the Yellow Sea off the Chinese mainland. Previous leaked photos of the Shi Lang showed it at a virtual standstill, but this picture shows the craft decidedly under power (via Manufacturing Net).
Despite China’s naval and military progress it will likely be years before they are able to launch and recover aircraft as part of any carrier battle group. Experts believe the technology, logistics, and training required to operate a carrier at full capacity will take that long for China to master.
The Chinese purchased the Shi Lang from the Ukraine where it was called the Varyag and mothballed in 1991. After purchasing the ship in 1998 and refitting it in dry dock for several years, the Chinese government initially said they were using the ship as a floating casino.
This is the fourth carrier purchased by China for study and training since 1985 and Asahi reports the Chinese are currently building two aircraft carriers of their own that will be operational in 2015.
This article was posted: Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 4:44 am