When China launched the maiden voyage of its first aircraft carrier in August, it had a lot of eyes on it. Some were from way, way up in the heavens — specifically, DigitalGlobe’s satellites. They provide the clearest pictures yet of China’s much-heralded floating toy, and make it seem less than meets the eye.
Truth be told, the Shi Lang isn’t actually new-new. It’s more like the aircraft carrier equivalent of buying a used car. China purchased the Varyag, a Kuznetsov-class carrier from Ukraine, refurbished it, and set it to sea as Shi Lang, intending to show the world it was a first-class naval power.