A large ship developed by the Chinese military has been spotted for the first time at a remote base in the desert of northwest China, new exclusive satellite images obtained by CNN show.
According to aerospace experts, the images, taken three months before a Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina, could signal significant progress in China’s airship program, showing a more versatile and maneuverable craft than the known ones.
The images, taken in November 2022 by the American satellite imaging company BlackSky, show a ship about 30 meters long at the center of a nearly one kilometer long airstrip at a military compound in the desert.
Threat to Americans
CNN sent the images to several aerospace experts, who confirmed that it was a ship and a landing strip, bounded by a pivot point used for launching aircraft, as well as a huge nearly 274-meter hangar.
Oklahoma Aerospace Institute Executive Director Jamey Jacobs said a craft like this could be used as a “sky submarine” and appeared to have propulsion and navigation capabilities that would allow it to fly around an area for a long period of time.
Several US intelligence officials acknowledged knowledge of the Chinese base but declined to talk about it or the airship.
A senior Defense Department official declined to comment, but said the Pentagon was aware of the case: “Because it is available through satellite imagery, we are tracking the object.”
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