Stealth UAVs Could Give China’s Type-076 Assault Carrier More Firepower

H I SuttonContributor Jul 23, 2020,07:50am EDT

China’s next-generation Type-076 Assault Carrier may be equipped with an EMALS aircraft catapult. … [+] H I SUTTON

The Chinese Navy is building assault carriers to support amphibious operations, like a possible invasion of Taiwan or landings on disputed islands in the South China Sea. The first two ships, called LHDs (landing helicopter docks) in naval terminology, are still being outfitted. But information is already emerging suggesting that the follow-on design, the Type-076, will have much more firepower.

The Chinese Navy, officially known as the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), is still new to the assault carrier game. Their current LHDs, which have yet to enter service, are the Type-075. These feature a spacious flight deck and are generally equivalent to the U.S. Navy’s America Class assault carrier. They can carry helicopters, including rotor-wing drones, and hovercraft. But it seems unlikely that they will host jet aircraft or UAVs (uncrewed air vehicles). Not so the Type-076.

A document circulating on the Chinese internet appears to be a request for proposals for the next generation of assault carrier. While it cannot be verified, it does appear to reflect the direction of PLAN thinking. It indirectly lays out the specification for the ship in the form of a list of systems and features. If it is broadly correct, then the Type-076 will carry jet aircraft of some sort.

We can infer this because a key new system will be an electromagnetic aircraft launch system, or EMALS, the 21st century equivalent to the steam catapult used for launching planes from aircraft carriers. A similar system is fitted to the U.S. Navy’s Ford Class aircraft carriers. China’s own next generation aircraft carrier is also reported to have EMALS, so China has a working knowledge of the technology. The U.S,. Navy has reportedly suffered teething problems, however. We should not assume that China will face the same issues, but it is a brand new technology so there are development risks involved.

Having EMALs on an assault carrier could be a significant game changer for China. It would allow it to carry jet aircraft, such as fighters or large UAVs. UAVs with an offensive weapons load are term UCAVs (uncrewed combat air vehicles). These could greatly increase air support for landing operations.

I asked B.A. Friedman, a military analyst focused on amphibious warfare and author of On Tactics: A Theory of Victory in Battle, what he thinks the implications of the EMALs would be. “There are no disadvantages to having jets on an LHD. But there trade-offs to the type of jets you can put on it. They need a lot of runway or they need to be VTOL [vertical take-off and landing], which itself has advantages and disadvantages. And jets tear up the deck plating faster than propeller aircraft.”

The EMALs approach suggests that the aircraft would not be VTOL. But what the aircraft would be is open to speculation. China may be developing a fighter aircraft suitable for relatively small flight decks of the LHD. For context, many Western LHDs are slated to carry the F-35 Lighting-II strike fighter. The current J-11 version of the famous Flanker, used aboard Chinese aircraft carriers, is likely too large.

But it may relate to a UCAV. These could benefit from being smaller than the equivalent crewed aircraft. The GJ-11 Sharp Sword is one design for a stealthy UCAV that China has been developing. Its payload is estimated to be around 4,400 lbs, which is at the lower end for warplanes. Another, the Flying Dragon-2, is expected to fly in 2021. This promises to still be light enough to operate from the Type-076’s 30-plus ton capacity aircraft lifts, but lift some 13,227 lbs of weapons. Something like these would require a catapult to operate for an assault carrier.

Friedman is cautious about how quickly these new capabilities can be developed. Learning how to use regular assault carriers, let alone ones with UCAVs, could take years. Friedman says that it is not like they can ask, ” ‘How do you guys normally do this?’ They have never done it. It could be years.”

All the same the PLAN is building its capabilities as an astonishing rate. No sooner have we become used to seeing the Type-075 LHD, which was seen as a massive step forward less than a year ago, and already we are on to the next generation. The possible RFP documents give us an inkling about what the Type-076 may be like, but until we see one we will still be guessing.

Source: Forbes “Stealth UAVs Could Give China’s Type-076 Assault Carrier More Firepower”

Note: This is Forbes’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

3 Comments on “Stealth UAVs Could Give China’s Type-076 Assault Carrier More Firepower”

  1. Joseph says:

    A new design stealth LHA that the American has no information about, a new design stealth fighter jet that the American know nothing about. Clueless American ‘analysts’ and spies would relate this rumors to the existing Type-075LHD and the existing J-31 to appease their incompetence to gather information. The truth is that the Chinese has advanced so far that it has put America to feel insecurity. Is it any wonder why Mike Pompeo has breakdown and doing his recents ravings and rantings in the Nixon Library? He experiences anxiety and PTSD from his inability to deal China, not that he ever understands China beyond the American Chinese takeaways that he frequented. Pompeo claim that his speech ‘reminisces’ the opposite Nixon and Kissinger 50 years ago. His speech was applauded by American bigots as turning point against China. But with China responding swiftly, fears and anxiety now grip the same applauding Americans. The American has been so quiet in the aftermath of China’s counter actions that there has been no following news from American usually bigot news media, not even from Donald Trump and the mouth-farting Mike Pompeo. In the end, Mike Pompeo’s raving and ranting would reminiscence the 1989 Tiananmen incident, which are back then hailed by the American as the ‘turning point against the Chinese government. Similarly Mike Pompeo would use the Chinese people as ‘weapons’ against their own government, brainlessly thinking that the Chinese people would love to suck up to the American like the Chinese takeaway joints he frequented. Just like the Tiananmen incident, his farce was applauded by clueless American, for a short time. Less than 24 hour latter they were not applauding anymore, only silence. For just like the 1989 Tiananmen incident, the know that they hava awaken a sleeping dragon. The 1989 Tiananmen incident drove China away from America to seek alternative they did not deem prestige before, from their South East Asian brethrens. The American is so brazen with China because China always avoid trouble at all cost, just like what they always did with the Indian in the borders. Just like the Indian incursion in Galwan, Mike Pompeo’s actions in closing a Chinese consulate and his raving and rantings about overthrowing China change the status quo. The response for Indian incursion in Galwan was swift. They apprehended the trespasser commanders and punched the rests to jump to the freezing river. Similarly, the Chinese responding Mike Pompeo’s actions by swiftly closing down the American Chengdu consulate, the American worst kept secret for being a spy hub. There is no benign purpose for America to place a consulate in Chengdu. The American has no economic nor diplomatic purpose in Western China. In their own words, there wasn’t even plenty of people applying American visa from Chengdu consulate. Just as the 1989 Tiananmen incident marked China’s disengagement from American economically, Mike Pompeo’s ravings would mark China’s disengagement from American politically. I do not believe that China would engage America in war, unless the American attacks first. But American isolation in the world of China’s sphere of influence is just beginning. America thinks they matter, where they do not. The American should really build trusts rather than building hegemony. But look at the bright side, with American demise, the Chinese would not need such a big navy. They would scale down their navy and redirect the resources somewhere else. The SCS artificial islands could be transformed into agricultural colony, and the Type-076 LHAs could be transformed as rocket’s launching pads. I would be amazed if China would redesign the Type-076 as a space mothership.


    • Steve says:

      What the US fears most is the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese development and advancement that has surpassed the US so fast that the scoundrels had No time to blink. The Chinese Socialism government has proven to be the superior governance to any democracies. A clear example is China’s high speed rail over 30,000 kms constructed in a decade, recent successful liftoff of China’s Mars spacecraft and China is about to layout another naval war game in the SCS, a possible inclusion with DF26 missile on moving targets including other Dongfengs. The Scoundrels are fully aware they cannot defeat or fight China alone in the East & South China seas, instead encouraging allies Japan & Australia to join US war chariot to perform FONs. These 2 dumbAss nations should realise they are cannon fodder. At least the Indians are not stupid enough to participate in SCS FONs. Instead India will soon be joining Russia and China in naval drill – surprise, surprise that India ain’t that dumb.


  2. Steve says:

    Chinese Ingenuity is endless … MoTuckTeng.


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