China’s most advanced destroyer the Nanchang formally enters service in ‘leap forward’ for navy


Ship is the first Type 055 guided missile destroyer to be commissioned into the PLA Navy and is one of the most advanced warships of its type in the world

The next-generation warships will play a key role in aircraft carrier groups in future

Minnie Chan

Published: 5:00am, 13 Jan, 2020

Updated: 5:00am, 13 Jan, 2020

The new Type 055 guided-missile destroyer Nanchang was commissioned at a ceremony in Qingdao on Sunday. Photo: Handout

China officially commissioned its first Type 055 guided missile destroyer, the Nanchang, on Sunday in what it hailed as a “leap forward” for its naval modernisation programme.

A grand ceremony was held in Qingdao, a major naval base in the eastern province of Shandong, on Sunday morning, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The Nanchang was launched in June 2017 and made its public debut in a naval parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the PLA Navy in April last year.

However, military sources said that its outfitting had not been completed at the time of the parade.

Nanchang made an appearance at the parade as part of the celebration but much of its equipment – including radars, communications and weapons systems and other works – had not actually been finished,” one PLA insider said.

Another military source said the Nanchang, which has a displacement of 12,000 tonnes, had been undergoing sea trials and weapon systems tests in the past eight months.

Xinhua said the commissioning of the Nanchang, which is equipped with air-defence, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons, represented a “generational leap” in the Chinese navy’s destroyers.

The warship appeared at the navy’s 70th anniversary parade last year, but insiders said its equipment had not been finished. Photo: Reuters

It is seen as one of the world’s most advanced ships of its type – behind only the US Navy’s Zumwalt class – and is Asia’s largest and strongest destroyer.

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said the Nanchang and its five sisters ships would have a key role in China’s aircraft carrier strike groups.

Both the design and the equipment of Nanchang have reached international standards. It will play the role of bodyguard for China’s fledgling aircraft carrier fleet in the future as Beijing plans to build at least four carrier strike groups,” Li said.

One PLA insider said that naval top brass had deliberately chosen to commission Nanchang a day after Taiwan’s elections to avoid antagonising the island.

The insider said January 11 was one of the military’s preferred dates for commissioning its new and advanced weapon systems, but added: “The PLA is well aware that if the commissioning was held on Saturday, which was also 11 January, then it might have an undesirable effect on the Taiwan elections. For the same reason the mainland side has scaled down activities such as air patrols near Taiwan over the past few months,” the insider said.

Taiwan authorities have often accused Beijing of sabre-rattling and have blamed activities such as military drills in the Taiwan Strait for poor relations between the two sides.

Source: SCMP “China’s most advanced destroyer the Nanchang formally enters service in ‘leap forward’ for navy”

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


China’s New Aircraft Carriers Are a Really Big Deal


As in a total of 6 carriers.

by Mark Episkopos November 11, 2019

Key Point: The United States must be prepared to face a much more advanced and capable Chinese navy.

China is forging ahead with the construction of its third aircraft carrier in under a decade, highlighting the scale of Beijing’s maritime ambitions.

A series of satellite images from the Jiangnan shipyard, recently published by a China-focused think tank, shed light on the ongoing construction of China’s Type 002 carrier. The images reveal a typical military vessel construction site, replete with a floodable basin and multiple sluice gates. While the haziness of the photos makes it difficult to discern the carrier’s dimensions, the hull appears to measure forty meters in width by forty-eight meters in length. If prior reports are accurate, Type 002 will be larger and much heavier than its predecessors at a displacement of up to eighty-five thousand tons versus the sixty thousand to seventy thousand tons. The carrier is widely expected to feature a conventional propulsion system, though other technical details remain scant.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Type 002’s development is the breakneck speed at which it is being produced and transferred to the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), with its commission set for 2022. Type 002’s most recent predecessor, Type 001A, was laid down in 2013 and is still undergoing sea trials. Even China’s oldest aircraft carrier, the Type 001 Liaoning, was only declared battle-ready as late as 2016, on the heels of a tortured acquisition and retrofit process.

Furthermore, the Chinese navy is reportedly already laying plans for Type 002’s successor: the nuclear-powered Type 003. As military commentator Song Zhongping told the South China Morning Post, Type 002 may be the last one of its kind: “The Type 002—a conventionally powered carrier with an EMALS-like system—may become the only one of that kind of aircraft carrier, because China will next build multiple nuclear-powered aircraft battle platforms.”

Quite reasonably, others have wondered why China is proceeding with the development of Type 002 without waiting to benefit from the logistical and engineering experience from completing Type 001A.

There are several factors at play. For one, the CATOBAR-equipped Type 002 is being constructed on an entirely different technical platform from its cheaper and less sophisticated STOBAR-compatible Types 001 and 001A. Type 002’s development is such a unique design challenge for China’s defense industry that they perhaps didn’t feel there was enough relevant technical overlap between the two projects to justify postponing Type 002.

Moreover, what may appear as PLAN’s cavalier or reckless attitude in simultaneously pursuing several large state projects is actually consistent with well-established Chinese military development doctrine. As a Beijing-based military expert put it, “China’s tradition is to have one generation in service, a new one in development and a next-generation under study.” In fact, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force is currently pursuing a near-identical production cycle; with the dust barely having settled on their fifth-generation J-20, they are already developing a sixth generation stealth fighter and even researching the next generation after that.

China’s rush to rival the United States as an aircraft carrier superpower reflects Beijing’s conviction, inculcated after the perceived humiliation of the Third Taiwan Crisis, that China can neither defend its eleven-thousand-mile-long coastline nor project seapower throughout the East Asia region without fielding a modernized carrier fleet; specifically, six of them by 2035.

Source: National Interest “China’s New Aircraft Carriers Are a Really Big Deal”

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


See These Chinese Missiles? They Can Sink an Aircraft Carrier


And America doesn’t have them.

by Kyle Mizokami September 26, 2019

Key point: America’s weapons are the best, but Beijing has some good ones anyone might want.

We all know that there are plenty of U.S. weapons the Chinese military would like to get its hands on. The Arsenal of Democracy churns out some of the best, most technologically advanced and versatile weapons in service anywhere. China is willing to steal American military technology to help advance its own military research and development programs.

The United States on the other hand…well, there is probably not a single Chinese weapon that, in a direct comparison, is better than its American equivalent and that probably won’t change for another twenty years. So if we want to talk about Chinese weapons for the American military, we have to think about holes in current American capabilities. There aren’t many, but here are Chinese weapons that might make the American military a little better.

AG600 Seaplane

The United States made extensive use of seaplanes during the Second World War, where they were instrumental in rescuing downed pilots and providing long-range reconnaissance. It was a PBY Catalina seaplane that reported the location of Admiral Nagumo’s fleet, setting the stage for the American victory at the Battle of Midway.

If the United States is serious about fighting across the expanse of the Pacific, it will once again need a long-range aircraft that can land in the water. China’s new AG600 seaplane is the answer. The largest seaplane in the world, it’s as big as a Boeing 737. It can carry up to fifty passengers, has a range of 3,100 miles, and can stay aloft for up to twelve hours.

DF-ZF Hypersonic Vehicle

Washington has expressed interest in so-called hypersonic weapons—weapons that travel at more than five times the speed of sound. Several projects, including the X-51 scramjet—have undergone development, but despite the technical prowess of the United States no one system has reached operational status yet.

The DF-ZF hypersonic vehicle is seemingly farther along than its American equivalents. The DF-ZF, which travels at speeds between 4,000 and 7,000 miles an hour, has had seven successful tests. Although the Chinese weapon travels more slowly than its American equivalent, it appears much closer to operational status than anything in development in the United States.

ZBD-05 Amphibious Infantry Fighting Vehicle

The U.S. Marine Corps attempt to replace the AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicle is now in its fourth decade. The original project, begun in 1988 resulted in the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, a failed effort that consumed $3 billion dollars before being canceled in 2011.

The U.S. is pressing ahead with the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle initiative, but in the meantime what about the Chinese ZBD-05? Developed by Chinese defense contractor Norinco, the ZBD-05 has a crew of three, can carry ten passengers, and has a 30-millimeter cannon mounted in a turret. It has ballistic protection up to .50 caliber rounds and shrapnel, and has a water speed of up to eighteen miles an hour.

Type 072A LST

Amphibious capability is going to be key in any future standoff in the Western Pacific. As part of a broader switch to fewer, more capable platforms America’s amphibious fleet is concentrated in massive the Wasp, America, and San Antonio-class ships of the U.S. Navy. Always accompanied by a slew of escorts, these hulking ships attract attention.

The Type 072A landing ship is a frigate-sized amphibious vessel. Just 390 feet long and 3,400 tons empty, the ships can carry three hundred troops, a dozen tanks, or eight hundred tons of cargo. It has a helicopter flight deck on the stern and a well deck that can accommodate China’s version of the LCAC air cushion transport. The Type 072A could be just the thing for quietly slipping into an area, depositing a small company-sized force of marines, and slipping away—without sending in an entire amphibious ready group.

Type 056 Corvette

The United States needs a capable littoral combat ship. Despite more than a decade of ship construction and development of high tech “mission modules”, the Littoral Combat Ship program has created a growing fleet of minimally capable ships armed largely with a single 57-millimeter and two 30-millimeter guns.

In the “perfect is the enemy of good” vein of thinking, consider the Type 056 corvette. The Type 056 is a small, 1,500 ton general purpose warship. The Type 056 may not rely on robotics and fancy swappable mission modules, but it’s cheap and available. It has a 76-millimeter gun, two 30-millimeter guns, and four YJ-83 anti-ship missiles. It has a FL-3000N launcher for air self defense.

For antisubmarine warfare, it has two triple-tube 324-millimeter torpedo launchers and more recent versions have a towed-array sonar system. It has a helicopter flight deck but not a hangar.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This first appeared in August 2016.

Source: National Interest “See These Chinese Missiles? They Can Sink an Aircraft Carrier.”

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


Bad News: China is Building Three Huge Helicopter ‘Aircraft Carriers’


What will Beijing do with them?

by Sebastien Roblin

July 27, 2019

Along the Huangpu River in the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyards in Shanghai, the hull modules of two huge new vessels have been captured in photographs taken by passengers in overflying airliners. Then early in July 2019, ground-level images of the construction leaked onto Chinese social media.

Measuring the length of two-and-half football fields and estimated to displace between 30,000-40,000 tons once in the water, the vessels appear to be the first of three Type 075 Landing Helicopter Docks (LHDs), essentially moving naval bases that can carry dozens of helicopters and launch amphibious landing craft from their floodable well deck.

In 2017, the Type 075 was detailed (and speculatively illustrated) in a South China Morning Post article by Minnie Chen. It would be the first ship of its type to serve in the PLA Navy—and the largest deployed outside of the United States, which currently operates eight 40,000-ton Wasp-class LHDs and one 45,000-ton America-class ship.

The PLA Navy already has commissioned five smaller 25,000-ton Type 071 Yuzhao-class amphibious transport docks (LPDs), with two more under construction. These can carry hundreds of troops, with supporting tanks and armored vehicles, and up to four Type 726 air-cushion landing craft (LCACs) to ferry them ashore. Four SA-321 helicopters give the Type 071 a limited vertical lift capacity.

By contrast, the Type 075 will be able to carry thirty helicopters, six of which can be taking off or landing at the same time, allowing it to rapidly deploy troops and supplies onto improvised forward landing zones. Meanwhile, its well deck could still accommodate two LCACs to land armored vehicles and larger cargoes.

Chinese internet articles furnish additional unconfirmed details, including claims the Type 075 will be powered by a 65,000-horsepower diesel engine and has a maximum speed of 22-24 knots.

The Type 075 isn’t meant put itself in the line of fire, however. It reportedly will be only lightly armed with two 30-millimeter Gatling-style cannons and two short-range HQ-10 missiles launchers for close protection from incoming missiles and aircraft, meaning it would realistically depend on escorting vessels to provide layered air defenses. Given the increasing capability of modern anti-ship missiles, some question the viability of large vessels like the Type 075.

This begs the question: what roles could huge helicopter carriers play for the PLA Navy?

Supporting an Amphibious Invasion

LHDs are a type of “amphibious assault ships”—vessels that help land and supply troops onto hostile shores. That’s a task a vessel like the Type 075 could perform very efficiently with its capacious hold and large helicopter wing.

Indeed, the People’s Liberation Army maintains significant amphibious warfare forces. Its Marine Corps recently tripled in size to 40,000 personnel, while the PLA Ground Forces also maintain tens of thousands of troops specialized in amphibious warfare, equipped with amphibious Type 63 and ZTD-5 tanks and ZBD-5 fighting vehicles.

These formations are foremost maintained with an eye to being able to credibly threaten an invasion of Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province.

China also has disputes with Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam over other islands—and even fought two naval battles with the latter for control of the Paracel and Spratly islands in 1974 and 1988 respectively.

But the transport capacity to deploy Chinese troops on hostile beachheads is limited. Thus vessels like the Type 075 will significantly improve the PLAN’s amphibious-landing “bandwidth.”

Chinese military and paramilitary forces are also building a network of island bases across the western Pacific, many hosting surveillance radars, airfields, docks and missile batteries. Supplying and reinforcing these often isolated island bases poses logistical challenges that LHDs could greatly alleviate.

Countering the Submarine Threat

Helicopters equipped with dipping sonars are particularly effective at detecting and engaging submarines. An LHD with abundant helicopters to deploy could provide a “bubble” of anti-submarine coverage and be deployed on missions to interdict likely submarine transit lanes, escort vulnerable task forces and convoys, and chase down suspicious sonar contacts.

This mission is particularly vital for the PLA Navy because U.S. and Japanese submarines have major advantages in acoustic stealth over their Chinese counterparts and would not have their freedom of maneuver constrained by long-range, land-based anti-ship missiles the way hostile surface ships would be. Thus, Chinese profiles of the Type 075 have stressed its application in anti-submarine warfare.

To a lesser extent, Airborne Early Warning (AEW) helicopters onboard LHDs could also provide forewarning of hostile aerial activity to the benefit of nearby ships. However, LHDs and their helicopters would depend on other assets to actually intercept aerial contacts.

Disaster Relief, Anti-Piracy and Foreign National Evacuation

In the hopeful absence of a major conflict with the United States, Chinese LHDs and their onboard helicopters would be extremely useful for disaster relief missions, expatriate or medical emergency evacuations, anti-piracy and smuggling patrols, and peacekeeping deployment. Such contingencies seem likely to occur as China’s commercial, political and military influence continues to expand across Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Africa.

Maritime Strike

Chinese sources have also noted the Type 075 could carry helicopters armed with air-to-surface missiles. This is undoubtedly true but must be appreciated in context: most helicopters lack strike range and survivability versus adversaries with significant air range defenses. However, in hypothetical littoral or archipelago-style battle spaces where the anti-air threat is more limited, maritime strike helicopters could usefully chase down hostile vessels, perform strikes against fixed positions, and provide air support for landed troops.

Chinese Naval Helicopters

One of the early benefits of China’s warming relations with the West in the 1970s was the acquisition of French helicopters. China eventually began license manufacturing its own versions, the Z-8 (based on the SA-320 Super Frelon) and the Z-9, based on the AS-565 Panther, all of which are operated by the PLA Navy.

The three-engine Super Frelons and Z-8s are large and fast. Capable of carrying up to twenty-six troops at once, some are also equipped with torpedoes and dipping sonars for anti-submarine warfare, or specially adapted for search-and-rescue and medical evacuation roles.

China has also evolved the Z-8 into the larger Changhe Z-18. China’s first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, currently operates Z-18F Sea Eagle anti-submarine helicopters and the Z-18J Bat AEW choppers, which have extendible flat-panel active-electronically scanned array radars in their bellies.

The medium-sized Z-9 helicopter family includes models outfitted for anti-submarine warfare, and an AEW variant with a K-Band radar. While the PLA Navy lacks an equivalent to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Sea Cobra gunships, the missile-armed Z-9WA model could conceivably be adapted for shipboard operations.

Finally, the PLAN also operates nineteen bizarre-looking Ka-27 “Helix” anti-submarine helicopters bought from Russia as well as nine Ka-31 AEW choppers, distinguished by their contra-rotating rotors.

However, the PLAN conspicuously lacks two types of aircraft that significantly enhance the combat power of other amphibious assault ships across the globe.

First, China has no tilt-rotor aircraft like the V-22 Osprey, helicopter/airplane hybrids with vertical takeoff capability of the former, and improved range and speed of the latter.

More importantly, the PLAN has no vertical-takeoff capable jump jets like the Harrier or F-35B, which would not only give Chinese amphibious carriers air defense capability but also greatly improve their surface-strike capacity. The PLAN will be particularly keeping an eye on F-35Bs deployed on Japanese—and likely South Korean—carriers. For now, there’s no indication China is seeking to develop such technically challenging (and often accident-prone) aircraft.

According to Rick Joe of The Diplomat, the lead Type 075 may launch late in 2019 or by mid-2020. All three of the initial flights may be launched by 2022 given the current apparent pace of construction, and Joe estimates additional LHDs, possibly of a revised and enlarged configuration, are likely to follow.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.

Source: National Interest “Bad News: China is Building Three Huge Helicopter ‘Aircraft Carriers’”

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


PLA Navy commissions amphibious assault ship, destroyer


A PLAN Type 071 LPD at a commissioning ceremony held at what is believed to be China’s Zhanjiang naval base on 12 January. Source: Via haohanfw.com

Andrew Tate, London – Jane’s Defence Weekly

15 January 2019

China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has commissioned its sixth Type 071 (Yuzhao)-class amphibious assault ship and another Type 052D (Luyang III)-class destroyer.

Although there has been no evident coverage of the commissioning in Chinese state-owned news media, photographs posted on online forums show a combined ceremony held for both warships that is said to have taken place on 12 January.

The latest Type 071 landing platform dock (LPD) vessel to enter service has been given pennant number 987 and is thought to have been named Wuzshi Shan . The location of the commissioning ceremony is unconfirmed but it appears that the event took place at the Zhanjiang naval base, with both ships likely joining the South Sea Fleet.

The first three Type 071 LPDs were allocated to the South Sea Fleet and are based at Zhanjiang. The first entered service in November 2007, the second in October 2011, and the third in September 2012. There was a pause in construction of nearly four years before the fourth entered service with the East Sea Fleet in early 2016.

The fifth Type 071 is believed to have been commissioned in September 2018 and also allocated to the East Sea Fleet but received no coverage in Chinese state-owned news media, nor were any images circulated online.

A similar news embargo appears to have been in place for the launch of the seventh Type 071, which is believed to have entered the water on 28 December 2018 at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard, which has built all ships of the class.

There is also some uncertainty about the number of Type 052D destroyers now in service, as the previous confirmed commissioning ceremony took place on 22 January 2017, when the fifth ship of the class, Xining , entered service.

Source: Jane’s 360 “PLA Navy commissions amphibious assault ship, destroyer”

Note: This is Jane’s 360’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Mass Production of China’s 055 Destroyer, 2 to Be Launched This Year


China’s Type 055 destroyer

Type 055 destroyer is China’s newest large destroyer with greater displacement as well as fire power than US Arleigh Burke II. It has 112 VSL units higher than Arleigh Burke II’s 96. Moreover, nearly 100 of them are multiple-purpose VSL able to launch various kinds of air defense and ground- and surface-attack missiles.

China only launched one Type 055 destroyer in June 2017, but a recent photo of two Type 055s with Chinese national flags is viral on the Internet. A people.com.cn reporter interviewed Chinese military expert Yin Zhuo about the photo. Yin said China has the shipbuilding capabilities to mass produce Type 055 destroyers so that it is entirely possible for two such ships to be launched within this year.

In fact, I had a post “China begins work on sixth Type 055 destroyer” on March 16 on China having begun to build its sixth Type 055 destroyer.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on people.com.cn’s report in Chinese titled “Yin Zhuo: There will be mass production of 055s: It is entirely possible to launch two 055s this year”. Full text of the report in Chinese can be viewed at http://mil.huanqiu.com/world/2018-06/12163720.html.


US Media on China Building Asia’s Largest Type 055 Destroyer


US media The National Interest says in its report “China’s Testing Asia’s Largest Warship”, “China is getting prepared to test what Asia’s largest surface warship since World War II, new satellite data reveals.” China has built a Type 055 rig roughly the size of the actual destroyer installed with electronics and sensors to help train crew.

According to the rig, Type 055 destroyer will be 160-180 meters long and 21-23 meters wide with a displacement between 12,000 and 14,000 tons, which makes it the largest surface warship in Asia.

It is believed that the warship will have a helicopter pad and vertical launch systems (VLS) with 112-128 cells for missiles. The media says, however, “Previously, Chinese media outlets have said that the Type 055 will displace 12,000 tons and carry 128 missiles. They have also said that it could eventually carry laser weapons.” In comparison, the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class Aegis warship has about 122 VLS cells.

It is common now to build a rig for a new warship and test it before actual construction.

According to estimate, China will ultimately build six Type 055, six 052C and eight 052D destroyers..

Source: The National Interest “China’s Testing Asia’s Largest Warship”

Full text of the media’s report can be viewed at http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/chinas-testing-asias-largest-warship-13043