The commission ceremony was held on April 24 at a certain military port in Sanya, Hainan. The three warships are the Dalian, a Type 055 destroyer, the Hainan, a Type 075 amphibious attack vessel, and the Changzheng 18, a Type 094 ballistic missile nuclear submarine (SSBN). They are expected to serve in the Southern Theater (South Sea Fleet).
The Dalian is the third Type 055 destroyer deployed in Chinese Navy. Type 055 is one of the rare surface warships in the world with displacement exceeding 10,000 tons but is neither a carrier nor an amphibious attack warship.
With displacement 35,000 to 40,000 tons Type 075 is one of the largest amphibious attack warships in the world. According to reports, it can carry 900 troopers and 20 helicopters.
By Liu Xuanzun Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/11 18:04:41
Photo taken on Jan. 12, 2020 shows the ceremony of the commissioning of the Nanchang, China’s first Type 055 guided-missile destroyer, in the port city of Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province. The commission of Nanchang marks the Navy’s leap from the third generation to the fourth generation of destroyers, according to a statement from the Navy. Photo: Xinhua
China’s domestically developed 10,000 ton-class Type 055 guided missile destroyer can counter stealth aircraft and low-Earth orbit satellites, a state-owned media has recently revealed for the first time, leading Chinese experts to say on Sunday that the capabilities will give Chinese forces a key edge over their opponents in modern warfare.
The Type 055 is equipped with a dual-band radar system that has anti-stealth and anti-satellite capabilities in low-Earth orbit, China Central Television (CCTV) reported over the weekend.
The anti-satellite capability in particular has prompted discussions among military observers.
Some of the advanced radar systems produced by modern technologies can detect low-Earth orbit aircraft, which often circulate the Earth at an altitude of 300 to 500 kilometers, Wang Ya’nan, a Chinese aviation and space expert and the chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Sunday.
If the radar system has a high enough performance, it can not only detect, but also track the satellites, Wang said, noting that this means the radar can then guide weapons to attack the satellites.
With a displacement of more than 10,000 tons, the Type 055 is a 180-meter-long, 20-meter-wide guided missile destroyer with 112 vertical launch missile cells capable of launching a combination of surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, land-attack missiles and anti-submarine missiles, according to previous media reports.
Given the large size of the Type 055, it would be naturally able to carry a type of air-defense missile capable of reaching targets in low-Earth orbit, Wang predicted, noting that the radar system used on the Type 055 can also transmit data via data chain to land-based air-defense forces which can launch anti-satellite missiles.
In a test in 2007, China successfully destroyed a satellite, BBC reported at the time. Liu Jianchao, then spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, confirmed the test and stressed China was committed to the peaceful development of outer space.
US aegis ships also have anti-satellite capabilities. In 2008, a Standard Missile-3 fired from the USS Lake Erie guided missile cruiser struck a crippled US spy satellite, Reuters reported at that time.
Low-Earth orbit satellites can monitor vast regions of battlefields and provide rich intelligence to their operators. In wartime, if one side can suppress hostile satellites, it can neutralize a key part of a hostile intelligence source and gain an advantage for itself, Wang said.
While it is also the first time that China’s state-owned media has confirmed the Type 055’s anti-stealth capability, it is not much of a surprise when compared with its anti-satellite capability, as China has already revealed several types of anti-stealth radar systems in many open occasions, military observers said.
The US has equipped its Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps with F-35 stealth fighter jets in addition to previously commissioned F-22 stealth fighter jets and B-2 stealth bombers. It is also selling a large amount of F-35s to its allies in the Asia-Pacific region.
This makes anti-stealth capability essential to countering potential threats from US stealth warplanes, analysts said.
Source: Global Times “China’s Type 055 destroyer has anti-stealth, anti-satellite capabilities: report”
Note: This is Global Times’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
By the end of this decade, China is expected to operate as many as 360 to 400 ships, according to a Pentagon report
By Kris Osborn | Warrior Maven September 8, 2020
The Chinese Navy is already the largest in the world, with a fleet of more than 350 ships that includes a fast-growing armada of destroyers, carriers and submarines, a reality which continues to raise concerns with the Pentagon and Navy weapons developers.
By the end of this decade, China is expected to operate as many as 400 ships, according to the Pentagon’s 2020 China Military Power report which catalogs the pace and extent of China’s ambitious military modernization.
“China is the top ship-producing nation in the world by tonnage and is increasing its shipbuilding capacity and capability for all naval classes,” the report said.
While China’s growing fleet is already much larger than the U.S. Navy’s 293 ships, some Navy leaders and observers say pure numbers may not ultimately be the measure of superiority. The Pentagon report does make this point, yet with the clear caveat that China’s emerging fleet size is indeed concerning.
“There is certainly more to naval power than ship counts, total counts of the Chinese vessels, there’s tonnage … but I would also draw your attention to weapons systems and it’s important to highlight the Chinese shipbuilding advantages in terms of its size of fleet,” Chad Sbragia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China, told reporters when addressing the report, according to a Pentagon transcript.
CHINA WILL DOUBLE ITS ARSENAL OF NUCLEAR WARHEADS, REPORT SAYS
China’s internal shipbuilding apparatus is, according to the report, concerning. The text of the document cites the merging of China’s State Shipbuilding Corporation and the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, creating the world’s largest shipbuilder.
File photo – China’s ZBD-05 amphibious infantry fighting vehicle in the Pursuit race, Stage 3 of the Seaborne Assault competition among marine units, at Khmelevka range as part of the 2016 Army Games, Kaliningrad Region, Russia. (Photo by Vitaly NevarTASS via Getty Images)
“China domestically produces its naval gas turbine and diesel engines, as well as almost all shipboard weapons and electronic systems, making it nearly self-sufficient for all shipbuilding needs,” the Pentagon China report states.
In order to better discern the scope of China’s shipbuilding enterprise, one need only to examine its current construction of carriers and destroyers.
Having already launched its second carrier, the Shangdong, the Chinese are already starting work on a third aircraft carrier, according to a May 2020 Congressional Research Service Report, “China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities.” The report says the PLA Navy may have as many as 400 ships and four aircraft carriers by 2025.
PENTAGON: CHINESE AIR FORCE FAST-BECOMING MASSIVE THREAT
China’s first indigenously-built carrier, the second carrier in the fleet overall, appears to be modeled after its first carrier, the ski-jump-configured Ukrainian-built Liaoning,
For its third carrier, the People’s Liberation Army Navy seeks to build a smoother, flatter carrier deck similar to the U.S. Ford-class with an electromagnetic catapult. An electromagnetic catapult generates a fluid, smooth launch, which is different from a steam-powered “shotgun” type take off. Also, an electromagnetic catapult extends an attack envelope well beyond that of China’s existing ski jump.
China’s emerging Type 055 destroyer is also attracting attention from U.S. planners. Interestingly, the ship represents an apparent Chinese effort to build a stealthy destroyer.
The ship does not have large protruding deck masts or many external deck-mounted weapons and appears to have a blended body-bow with a smooth exterior. In some respects, the ship does appear to resemble some elements of the U.S. Navy’s stealthy USS Zumwalt destroyer.
Also, the central placement of the deckhouse, blended with a back end area, might represent a deliberate effort to align the ship’s center of gravity and therefore decrease the possibility of capsizing in rough seas. The Nanchang has very similar-looking deck-mounted guns and a smooth, flat, roundly curved deckhouse. Like the USS Zumwalt, there is a decidedly linear, inwardly-angled hull-deckhouse connection.
The radar panels of the Type 055, appear blended into the sides of the ship and the vessel appears to have narrow, yet flat command post windows. Overall, the exterior of the ship clearly seems to have fewer “sharp edges” or contours potentially more detectable to enemy radar.
— Kris Osborn is the Managing Editor of Warrior Maven and The Defense Editor of The National Interest –
Source: Fox News “Pentagon warns that China’s Naval power is growing”
Note: This is Fox News’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
A Department of Defense report suggests that the Chinese Navy, formally known as the PLAN (People’s Liberation Army Navy), may put anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs) on its new cruisers. These are the weapons dubbed ‘Aircraft Carrier Killers’ because of their massive hitting power. It would be the first time any navy has put this category of weapon on a warship. Chinese Navy cruisers would then be arguably the most heavily armed surface combatants in the world.
Photo 055 fires ASBM
Chinese Navy (PLAN) Type-055 Renhai Class cruiser firing an anti-ship ballistic missile
Artist’s impression of a Renhai Class cruiser launching an anti-ship ballistic missile from its aft … [+] H I SUTTON
The 2020 China Military Power Report to Congress says that the new Type-055 Renhai Class cruiser “will likely be able to launch ASBMs and LACMs once these weapons are available”. LACMs refers to land-attack cruise missiles. The report comes in both classified and unclassified forms. In the unclassified version we are not presented with the evidence behind the assertion. But it would be a logical development, and would set Chinese warships apart from all others in the world.
The first Renhai Class cruiser was only commissioned in January of this year. But already the 8th ship has been launched on August 30.
At over 10,000 tons the Renhai Class cruisers are already impressive warships. They are equipped with very large phased-array radars similar to the U.S. Navy’s AEGIS system. The Chinese system is actually newer in terms of some key technologies. It uses AESA (active electronically scanned arrays) while the SPY-1 on American ships uses PESA (passive electronically scanned array). Data is not available on the performances and combat effectiveness of the overall systems however.
China’s anti-ship ballistic missile is the CSS-5 Mod 5, better known as the DF-21D. The 35 ft long missile has a maneuverable reentry vehicle (MaRV) which allows it to adjust its course to hit the ship. It has a range of over 900 miles and is specifically intended to threaten aircraft carriers. The longer ranged DF-26 missile is also believed to be capable to targeting warships. Currently these missiles are shore based using a mobile truck launchers. But arming cruisers with an equivalent weapon could be a game changer, extending their reach further into the Pacific.
According to Captain Chris Carlson, a former senior U.S. intelligence officer and technical intelligence expert, it will likely be a newly developed weapon. The DF-21D is too large to fit inside the existing VLS aboard the Renhai Class. So either a modified VLS, or a new weapon. Carlson suspects the latter. There is currently no evidence that a new ASBM has been tested however so this may be some years off.
The current armament of the Renhai Class includes HHQ-9 surface-to-air missiles. These are, in the broadest sense, equivalent to the U.S. Navy’s RIM-66 Standard family of missiles. They have a maximum range of nearly 200 miles against aircraft. The Chinese system appears to lack the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) capabilities of the U.S. system however.
Also in the VLS are JY-18A ‘Eagle Strike’ anti-ship missiles. These have a reported range of 330 miles and hit their targets at supersonic speeds. The ASBM will greatly increase this anti-ship firepower. Possibly in the future DH-10 land attack cruise missiles (LACMs) will be added. These will likely already fit inside the existing VLS.
Anti-ship ballistic missiles are not the only cutting-edge weapons which the Chinese Navy is pioneering. They already have a ship with a rail gun. This first ship is likely to be a test bed and rail guns have not been seen on the Renhai Class. The publicly available version of the DoD report does not mention rail guns at all, so possibly this will only ever be an experiment.
The Chinese Navy is massively expanding its capabilities. The anti-ship ballistic missiles are a prime example of this, as is the Renhai Class cruiser. Marrying the two appears to be a natural step, and one which will mark the PLAN out as an innovative navy.
Source: Forbes “Chinese Navy May Be First To Get Ballistic Missiles”
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.
The Type-075 represents a step-change in Chinese Navy (PLAN) amphibious warfare capabilities. It will enable better over-the-horizon landing capabilities and improve air cover. And there are already rumors of the follow-on Type-076 LHD which is expected to include EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System) for UCAVs or crewed aircraft. At this stage these rumors should be treated with caution. But they do give an indication of the direction PLAN amphibious capabilities are going.
In addition to the well-deck for Type 726 hovercraft (generally equivalent to the US Navy’s LCAC – Landing Craft Air Cushion), the LHD will have a large rotor-wing component. This will include the ubiquitous Z-8 transport helicopter which is based on the French SA 321 Super Frelon. More modern types seen aboard, in mock-up form, include the naval variant of the Harbin Z-20. This is, in our opinion, a copy of the Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk / Sea Hawk family.
There are also small rotor-wing UAVs and even a Ka-27/28 HELIX anti-submarine warfare helicopter model aboard for deck tests:
The carrier suffered a fire incident on April 11 2020. Although the fire was quickly put out and damage appeared minimal, smoke stains are still visible in the aft port-side near to the ramp.
The Hudong-Zhonghua yard in Shanghai where the lead Type-075 has been built has already launched a second ship. And analysis of commercial satellite imagery suggests that module for a third may be on its way. At the moment the yard is building the Type-054A frigate for the Pakistan Navy and, it appears, a Type-071 LPD for Thailand.
Soruce: Naval News “China’s First Type-075 Assault Carrier Is Starting Sea Trials”
Note: This is Naval News’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Here’s What You Need To Remember: Chinese submarine technology has progressed in leaps and bounds, and the Kilo-class may be to thank. Even though China does seem to be more intent on projecting force farther and farther away from the Chinese mainland, the Kilo-class is nevertheless the backbone of China’s anti-access/area denial strategy at sea—especially close to home. It would be wise for surface ships in China’s backyard to be wary.
These Soviet-designed submarines are the backbone of China’s non-nuclear submarine fleet—and are very hard to detect. Here’s how they may give China an edge in the South China Sea.
Soviet Union Surplus
The Kilo-class was originally a Soviet-designed boat that entered service in 1980. They are relatively small diesel-electric attack submarines intended for both anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare. What makes them special is that they have reduced acoustic signatures that are hard to track, known colloquially as “black holes.”
The Kilo-class is outfitted with anechoic tiles that adhere to the outside of the submarine’s hull. Anechoic tiles are essentially rubberized tiles that have been impregnated with air bubbles of varying size. The air bubbles are optimized for absorbing enemy sonar at different depths and can distort the returning sonar signal from enemy ships or submarines in order to make the sub harder to track.
Because the Kilo-class uses diesel-electric propulsion, they have shorter range and endurance than nuclear powered submarines. Naval expert H. I. Sutton explained that the Kilo-class “uses heavy-duty lead-acid batteries to power the propeller. These are occasionally recharged using diesel generators, an arrangement known as diesel-electric.”
Recharging the Kilo’s batteries takes time away from missions, and requires surfacing or raising a snorkel near the surface which is risky because the sub might be detected. In addition to oxygen, other mission limitations include the crew’s food and water supplies, as well as diesel fuel for the on-board diesel generators used in battery recharging.
Kilo-class submarines have a crew complement of fifty-two and can be out on patrol for over a month—up to forty-five days. It’s maximum dive depth is about 300 meters, or a thousand feet, and reportedly the subs have a range of 12,000 kilometers, or about 7,500 miles.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy ordered the first Kilos from Russia in 1994 and has bought up more quite readily since, purchasing two upgraded Kilo variants in 1996, and eight more upgraded Kilos in 2002.
China’s Kilo-class are optimized for the defense of China’s coasts and for military actions against Taiwan due to both their size and stealth.
Because of the Kilo’s relatively small size, it can operate and maneuver in the shallow coastal waters near China, or in the South China Sea more easily than large nuclear submarines, which can struggle to maneuver at low depths. Despite having significantly less endurance than other nuclear submarines, diesel-electric submarines, especially compact hulls, can be more capable than nuclear submarines in some circumstances.
The latest Kilo variants are among the quietest submarines in the Chinese and Russian navies. Upgraded Kilos are “slightly longer in length—the sub’s submerged displacement is around 4,000 tons—and features improved engines, an improved combat system, as well as new noise reduction technology.” Coupled with sonar-absorbent anechoic tiles, Kilos are deadly silent.
Chinese submarine technology has progressed in leaps and bounds, and the Kilo-class may be to thank. Even though China does seem to be more intent on projecting force farther and farther away from the Chinese mainland, the Kilo-class is nevertheless the backbone of China’s anti-access/area denial strategy at sea—especially close to home. It would be wise for surface ships in China’s backyard to be wary.
Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer with The National Interest. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture. This article first appeared earlier this year.
Source: National Interest “China’s (from Russia) Kilo-Class Submarines Can Sink Just About Anything”
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.
A new type of vertical take off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was allegedly spotted last week aboard one of the two Type 075 LHD currently fitting out in China. Henri Kenhmann from East Pendulum has the story.
Xavier Vavasseur 02 Jul 2020
This article was first published in French language
by East Pendulum
What if Type 075 LHDs, the new vectors of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN or Chinese Navy)’s amphibious forces, were designed from the beginning to operate with unmanned systems ?
Following the integration tests of the Austrian Camcopter S-100 on the Type 054A anti-submarine frigates, photographed at least twice in June 2011 and then in May 2012 by the Japanese maritime self-defense force (JMSDF), and the tests in 2016 of a fixed-wing Wind Shadow, by Chinese manufacturer AVIC, on the electromagnetic catapult at the naval pilot training center in Xincheng, there is no doubt that the PLAN has been looking for some time to equip its ships with UAVs.
But it is neither on a frigate, nor on an aircraft carrier with skijump (and yet studies are underway), that the first UAVs of the Chinese navy will be operational, at least if we believe the photos recently taken by a netizen in Shanghai.
Launched on September 25, 2019 at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard, the fitting out of the first ship in class Type 075 is progressing rapidly, despite the fire incident which started in its well deck in April this year.
And as with all Chinese warships under construction, especially those with a deck and / or hangar, embarking full-scale models to test the aviation facilities of said warship is an integral part of factory testing before delivery.
While we are used to seeing models of helicopters and carrier-borne fighter aircraft such as the Z-8J, Z-9D and J-15 on surface vessels and aircraft carriers, or more recently Z-20 models aboard the stretched Type 052D and Type 055 destroyers, the appearance of what strongly resembles a VTOL UAV, with rotary wing, is rather new.
Indeed, on the deck of this first Type 075 we can clearly distinguish, next to a model of Z-8J helicopter, the silhouette of a UAV with angular shapes, with what seems tail and main rotors. Based on the well-known size of the Z-8J, we can extrapolate and estimate that the device in question would measure about 9.55 meters in length (some speak of 8.23 meters) and would be more than 2.5 meters tall. Meaning a little smaller than a Z-9 (MTOW of 4,100 kg) or smaller than a Z-11 (MTOW of 2,250 kg).
As no light military helicopter program smaller than the Z-11 is known today (except probably the EC120 Colibri used by the aviation school of the Chinese army) we can then suppose that the new device is in fact a drone, a VTOL UAV which size exceeds practically all the projects made public so far.
If the hypothesis of the VTOL UAV is proven, the question to know what is the model and the manufacturer of this craft, which measures nearly 10 meters long and which could weight at least 1,200 kg at takeoff, remains unanswered.
Today, there are several Chinese entities capable of designing, or who already have work in progress, in terms of naval VTOL UAVs. We can cite for example a few national institutions such as the 601 Chengdu Institute and the 602 CHRDI Institute of the AVIC group, the aerospace groups CASC and CASIC, the specialist in target drones NRIST, the Chinese Academy of Sciences as well as several aeronautics universities, or even the private sector such as ZHZ Tech, Ziyan UAV, Sunward Technology…
NRIST, better known as the Institute 60 of the Chinese General Staff, made a good start in the matter at the 5th UAV Show China in September 2014, by presenting several rotary wing UAVs specially designed to be embarked on surface vessels. One of these drones exposed in the form of a model, the WZ-6B, weighs 1,600 kg at takeoff and has an endurance of 8 flight hours.
But while the take-off weight could correspond in the case of the WZ-6B, the shape of the airframe clearly diverges from the craft spotted on the Type 075 LHD. On the other hand, the physical appearance of the drone on the Chinese amphibious vessel is close to that of the AR-500C, an unmanned helicopter developed by the 602 CHRDI Institute of the AVIC group, which made its first flight on May 20 this year.
Although the physical resemblance can never be a tangible proof of the kinship of industrial projects, this gave a reason to look for what this R&D office of AVIC achieved in terms of naval UAVs. The company specializes in the design of helicopters and has already designed several unmanned helicopters like the famous AV-500W.
And we just learned that the CHRDI won an important tender from the Chinese navy, on September 8, 2016, on the development of a drone. The project is described as having “historic significance in the development of naval equipment for China” (该 项目 非同凡响 ， 对于 促进 我国 海军 武器 装备 发展 具有 划时代 意义。).
Few details are disclosed on the invitation to tender and the project, but an in-depth search in the articles published between 2015 and 2018 still allows us to extract several interesting points:
The CHRDI “won hands down” this invitation to tender, facing several private companies and institutions in the field.
One of the requirement is that the drone be operated in a “highly complex” environment.
One of the key characteristics required in the specifications is to have significant autonomy in flight.
The fuel tanks of the craft were enlarged during the design, the thickness of the tank hull is reduced and goes from 1mm to 0.4mm.
The person responsible for the design of these tanks is also working on the AC352 project (the local version of Airbus H175) and on a heavy helicopter project.
The drone’s embedded systems went into the testing phase in May 2018.
It is still premature to confirm with certainty that the device spotted on the first Type 075 LHD is indeed an unmanned helicopter, and that it is the one developed by CHRDI.
But while waiting for new open sources elements, it will be useful to focus on scenarios for the use of a VTOL UAV in the Chinese navy. Because 10 years after their first qualification tests, the operational deployment of UAVs on Chinese warships is just a matter of time.
To be continued
Source: Naval News “Was a VTOL UAV Spotted Aboard China’s Type 075 LHD ?”
Note: This is Naval News’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
17 years after the start of the program, the construction of the 20,000 tons Type 071 landing platform dock (LPD) seems to be reaching its end after two lots of orders, 8 units in total. Construction of the Type 075 landing helicopter dock (LHD) and the design of a larger version (known as Type 075A), however, are just starting.
This article was first published in French language by East Pendulum
End of the Type 071 LPD program ?
There was a time when observers thought that the Chinese army could only rely on thousands of fishing boats to cross the strait and land on the island of Taiwan, which is almost true. With less than twenty rather small landing craft (LST type) in the early 2000s, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN or Chinese navy) was unlikely to be able to conduct a large amphibious operation to reach this “separated province”. But the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, followed by the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, has radically changed the situation, especially in the minds of policy makers.
Thus was born the Type 071 in 2002, the first Chinese LPD displacing more than 20,000 tons. Three ships of this class were put in service between 2007 and 2012, all assigned to the PLAN South Sea Fleet (which, however, does not include Taiwan in its area of responsibility).
But being able to transport a whole battalion reinforced with marines, twenty amphibious tanks and up to sixteen 13 ton helicopters per ship does not seem to be a sufficient capacity for the PLAN. That’s despite the fact Type 071 are not the only type of amphibious vessels in the Chinese fleet today and that the LPDs would typically be accompanied by nearly 60 landing ship tanks (LST) of all kinds, 3 times more than just 20 years ago.
It remains a mystery why five more Type 071 LPDs were added to the order book during the 12th five-year plan (2011-2015), whereas the program had planned for only 3 hulls initially.
Things have been moving fast since, with the commissioning of the 4th vessel in the class, Yimeng Shan (pennant number 988) in February 2016, Longhu Shan (980) in September 2018 and Wuzhi Shan (987) in January this year.
The 7th Type 071, Wudang Shan, as well as the 8th one (name yet to be revealed), are currently undergoing fitting out in Shanghai. The latter, launched at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard on June 6, 2019, is expected to be the last, at least for the second batch of orders.
With 8 Type 071 LPDs alone, the PLAN would already be able to project a force of more than 2 marine brigades on the island of Taiwan, not to mention the troops that can be transported by the 60 or so LSTs displacing between 1,000 and 5,000 tons.
Start of the Type 075 LHD program
Is this “enough”? Difficult to say without knowing the exact intervention scenarios of the Chinese military for the island of Taiwan and many others.
Still, the Chinese Navy officially started in 2011 development work on the Type 075, a helicopter carrier project displacing more than 30,000 tonnes. Its aim is likely to increase the “vertical” amphibious assault capability with the very mountainous East Coast of Taiwan in mind.
As for its specifications, rumors speak of “36,000 tons of displacement”, “capacity of 28 helicopters”, “diesel engine with the 9,000 kW 16PC2-6B” and “four CIWS including two HQ-10 and two H/PJ-11” (see our article “Some rumors about the characteristics of LHD Type 075” in French language).
Note that the launching of the first vessel of the class was mentioned in 2014, but several unofficial sources spoke of a change in the design that would have drove down the size (displacement) of the vessel and therefore its transport capabilities. While a capability for 36 helicopters was expected initially, the figure would only be 28 today, but that remains to be confirmed.
A larger variant: Type 075A LHD
If a source close to the Chinese naval sector is to be believed, the PLAN would have planned several batches of construction for the Type 075 program. The first batch would involve three vessels and a single unit of a larger version, presumably the Type 075A, which would be at the design stage by the 708 Institute of the CSSC group.
Anyway, the aerial and satellite images show a rather fast construction inside a dock. Since the first steel cut at the end of 2017, the lead Type 075 ship has already taken shape this summer according to a series of photos leaked on Chinese social media by a technician from the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard. The technician was laid off immediately and sent home according to posts on his Weibo account.
These photos and other (more legal) shots suggest that the Type 075 features a well deck similar to the Type 071, and two vehicle decks (on two levels) under the aviation hangar. The vessel is fitted with two aircraft elevators: One in front of the island and the other one at the stern.
Source: Naval News “China: End of the Type 071 LPD Program, Start of the Type 075 LHD One?”
Note: This is Naval News’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
In recent years, China has been building ships rapidly across the waterfront. Chinese sources liken this to “dumping dumplings into soup broth.” Now, Beijing is really getting its ships together in both quantity and quality. The world’s largest commercial shipbuilder, it also constructs increasingly sophisticated models of all types of naval ships and weapons systems. What made this possible, and what does it mean?
History and Drivers
China’s shipbuilding industry enjoyed early and inherent advantages that its aircraft industry, for example, notably lacked. Unlike most other sectors, its infrastructure could not be physically relocated far inland as part of Mao’s disastrously inefficient Third Front campaign. When Deng began reforms at the end of the 1970s, he prioritized shipbuilding to support the shipping industry, which helped carry foreign trade, underwriting several decades of rapid growth that has changed China, the United States, and the world significantly.
In 1982, China State Shipbuilding Corporation was formed from the Sixth Ministry of Machine Building. That same year, the Middle Kingdom made its first delivery to the international ship market. Abundant cheap labor and domestic demand buoyed Chinese shipwrights despite a ruthlessly competitive international market.
Shipbuilding’s commercial dual-use nature has long facilitated transfer and absorption of much foreign technology, standards, and design and production techniques. China’s shipbuilding industry has leapfrogged key steps, focusing less on research and more on development, thereby saving time and resources and enjoying the most rapid growth in modern history.
China’s current naval buildout dates to the mid-1990s, catalyzed and accelerated in part by a series of events that impressed its leaders with their inability to counter American military dominance. These include Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995-96, and the Belgrade Embassy Bombing in 1999.
Ships are the physical embodiment of naval strategy—the most essential element through which a nation pursues its goals at sea. China has parlayed the world’s second-largest economy and second-largest defense budget into the world’s largest ongoing comprehensive naval buildup, which has already yielded the world’s largest navy by number of ships. It is making big waves, ever-farther from its shores.
After shrinking to replace many obsolescent vessels with fewer but more modern vessels in the 1990s and 2000s, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is now improving in both numbers and sophistication. As China’s maritime strategy has evolved, so have PLAN requirements. In response to this major growth in perceived needs, the PLAN has taken on more warfare areas, with significant improvements across the board. In the 1990s, the PLAN did not have significant strike or air defense capabilities; now it does. To meet high-end, multirole requirements—such as area and point defense in layers—with more missions and greater capabilities, PLAN vessels have grown more sophisticated, and generally expanded. The larger vessels of China’s navy increasingly resemble those of its American counterpart.
Regarding Chinese shipbuilding advantages, it is difficult to obtain specific data. Numbers related to budgeting and process efficiency in China’s relatively opaque defense industry unfortunately remain very difficult to investigate precisely using open sources. The official statistics Beijing releases still do not even include a reliable breakdown for China’s service budgets—such as that of the PLAN—within the overall official PLA budget (itself highly controversial). Because of the lack of precise information available, estimating Chinese ship production expenses logically involves making assumptions about relative costs in comparison to those known for other countries—not an exact science.
Still, the larger dynamics are clear. China has the world’s largest shipbuilding infrastructure, and its development enjoys top-level leadership support, starting with Xi Jinping himself. Commercial production is price-capped in part by China’s relatively stable business and vendor base. It helps subsidize military production, an option closed to the United States given its paucity of commercial shipbuilding. Chinese shipbuilding is greatly facilitated by an unparalleled organizational structure for collecting and disseminating technology, and integrating it into development and production processes at an industrial scale. Moving forward, an important variable is the extent to which China can use its familiar approach of moving up the value chain and parlaying exceptional cost-competitiveness into exceptional quantity at sufficient quality.
China’s effort to exploit civil-military synergies offers both opportunities and challenges. This was vigorously debated by the contributors to the Naval War College China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI)’s Naval Institute Press volume on Chinese Naval Shipbuilding. “Not a good mix operationally—colocation and coproduction are challenging if not counterproductive” was one of the more pointed critiques. Potential civil-military incompatibilities cited include culture, security, standards, design, engineering, propulsion, construction, and timescales.
Nevertheless, dual-use construction is undeniably emphasized in many authoritative Chinese industry policies and publications, and also in the form of a central commission for integrated military and civilian development headed by none other than Xi himself. There is certainly some intermingling in practice, with the greatest manifestation visible in shipyard infrastructure. High-tech, high-value-added, and high reliability commercial shipbuilding—for example, of liquid natural gas (LNG) and liquid propane gas (LPG) tankers, very large crude carriers (VLCCs), high-capacity container ships carrying more than 10,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), and even cruise ships—can be directly relevant to warship production in a way that building simple ships like bulk carriers is not.
Beijing’s prioritized military sector generally enjoys better funding, infrastructure, and human capital in the form of advanced personnel—such as engineers with long-term experience, as opposed to rapid turnover. The proof is in the pudding: the PLAN is “not receiving junk” from China’s shipbuilding industry but rather increasingly sophisticated, capable vessels. Its growing satisfaction with them is indicated in part by longer production runs of fewer classes.
A more specific question remains: what limitations on high-end capabilities plague Chinese-produced warships? For now, China faces substantial difficulties in fielding the largest, most sophisticated surface combatants and submarines, as well as remaining weaknesses in propulsion and electronics. These all involve complex systems-of-systems in which China’s preferred second-mover piecemeal integration of foreign and domestic technologies cannot offer a “good enough” result. China’s aircraft carrier program offers a prime example.
Deck Aviation Challenges
With regard to aircraft carrier development, China has come a long way but has still has further to go. The appeal is clear: these apex predators of the sea are also the most modularized naval system, one of the few ships that are relatively easy to upgrade over a considerable lifespan. But given difficulties inherent in improving marine and aviation propulsion, power, and launch technologies, an evolutionary “crawl, walk, run” trajectory seems likely for China’s aircraft carrier program.
This remains very much a work in progress: the PLAN is still “crawling” and not even “walking” yet. China has already shown that it can build decent carrier hulls. But deck aviation platforms are primarily a conveyance for aircraft-delivered payloads. And there is “no such thing as a free launch.” Payload delivery is essential to a fleet’s performance; so too is having infrastructure sufficient to support and sustain it. China’s first carrier, Liaoning, is designed for air defense, not strike. It offers a very modest extension of air defense: getting a Flanker-type aircraft like the J-15 beyond its unrefueled range from a land-based airfield.
The PLAN faces formidable challenges in such areas as electronics, maritime monitoring, and command; control; communications; computers; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR). All are often underappreciated due to their subtlety and ubiquity of employment, but are nonetheless essential for robust deck aviation operations. They may be less amenable to China’s preferred approach of copying and emulation than are simpler structural systems. Chinese personnel are improving markedly in their training, but need to become still more proficient in the hard-to-steal “tribal knowledge” of coordinating operations and using equipment, including shipboard electronics.
With far greater launching power than Liaoning’s ski jump, catapults will enable larger aircraft and payloads, delivering the PLAN to deck aviation’s “walking” stage. Deploying heavier airborne early warning aircraft will improve situational awareness. “Running,” as China perceives it, would require a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with an electromagnetic launch system—the latter of which the United States is still struggling to perfect.
Carrier Group Assembly
China is gradually strengthening its ability to project significant power into distant waters by increasingly fielding the components of an aircraft carrier group. Sustaining a carrier group at sea requires replenishment vessels. Protecting a carrier group requires surface combatants with robust air defenses and offensive missiles as well as nuclear-powered submarines with potent anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs).
To improve at-sea replenishment, China is currently building theType 901 integrated supply ship, which can furnish fuel, food, and some spare parts. It remains limited in ability to transfer ordnance, its biggest difference from the U.S. Supply class. It is already more than adequate for furnishing air-to-air missiles for Liaoning. It could be refitted with more dry transfer stations to increase ordnance transfer capability—a useful indicator to watch for, which would suggest intent to emulate the United States in long-distance power projection.
As for protection and coordination, the Type 055 cruiser, if it has the command and control facilities described in open sources, will be the centerpiece of future Chinese carrier groups —able to organize other ships somewhat like a U.S. Aegis cruiser does. With 112 vertical launch cells (VLS), this large multi-mission vessel has more than double the missile capacity of any previous PLAN surface combatant. Its VLS loadouts of HHQ-9 surface-to-air missiles suggest great capacity for area air defense, its loadouts of YJ-18 ASCMs offer a significant anti-surface warfare capability, its loadouts of CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles suggest a nascent potential for projecting power ashore, and its Yu-8 rocket-assisted torpedoes offer an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) capability.
Most navies with aircraft carriers do not protect them with robust submarines, but if China is to approach the American gold standard that it so clearly admires, and to which it apparently aspires, it will have to improve its nuclear-powered submarines, which are needed to allow for a full range of long-distance undersea operations. Even with a towed sonar array, China’s 093A nuclear-powered attack submarine remains at a significant disadvantage in being able to detect, and if necessary, attack enemy submarines while remaining undetected itself. It is still primarily an anti-surface ship platform with torpedo-tube-fireable YJ-18 ASCMs and a relatively noisy reactor, particularly in the secondary loop. Major work remains for China to project distant undersea power.
Near Seas Operational Scenarios
Closer to China’s shores, there is limited value for Chinese carrier operations, given their relative vulnerability and the potential for a highly-contested environment. But China’s shipbuilding industry has already produced a fleet of several hundred increasingly advanced warships capable of “flooding the zone” along the contested East Asian littoral, including increasingly large amphibious vessels well-suited to landing on disputed features, if they can be protected sufficiently. This is also where China’s large, conventionally-powered submarine fleet can be particularly deadly. When several hundred easy-and-cheap-to-build ships from China’s coast guard and its most advanced maritime militia units are factored in, Beijing’s numerical preponderance becomes formidable for the “home game” scenarios it cares about most. And that does not even include the land-based “anti-navy” of aircraft and missiles that backstops them. In this way, Beijing is already able to pose aformidable military-maritime challenge to the regional interests and security of the United States and its East Asian allies and partners.
Trends and Implications
China’s naval buildup is only part of an extraordinary maritime transformation—modern history’s sole example of a land power becoming a hybrid land-sea power and sustaining such an exceptional status. Underwriting this transition are a vast network of ports, shipping lines and financial systems, and—of course—increasingly advanced ships. All told, this raises the rare prospect of a top-tier non-Western sea power in peacetime, one of the few instances to occur since the Ming Dynasty developed cutting-edge nautical technologies and briefly projected unrivaled maritime power across the Indian Ocean. Now, for the first time in six centuries, commercial sea power development has flowed away from the Euro-Atlantic shipyards of the West, back toward an Asian land power that is going seaward to stay. Military sea power may be poised to follow.
Beijing is pursuing a requirements-based approach:
developing a strategy
applying that strategy
and building and deploying a fleet accordingly
The PLAN’s transition from a “Near Seas” to a “Near and Far Seas” navy is dispersing its fleet over greater distances, making it more difficult to protect and support, as well as requiring enhanced logistics and facilities access.
Some of the most important and challenging requirements include:
– long endurance propulsion—especially nuclear power, the ultimate “gold standard”
– area air defenses for surface combatants and emerging carrier groups
– land-attack and strike warfare, including from deck aviation assets
– acoustic quieting for submarines, to help them both survive being targeted in deeper blue-water environments, and search more effectively without limitation by self-generated noise
– and, finally, broad-coverage C4ISR
China has started to pursue all these objectives, but it will take years before it fully accomplishes them.
Already, however, Chinese ship-design and shipbuilding advances are increasing the PLAN’s ability to contest sea control in a widening arc of the Western Pacific. China is producing two to three surface combatants for every one the United States produces. If current trends continue, China will be able to deploy a combat fleet that in overall order of battle (meaning, hardware-specific terms) is quantitatively larger and qualitatively on par with that of the U.S. Navy by 2030.
Whether China can stay on this trajectory, given looming maintenance costs and downside risks to its economy as it faces an S-curved growth slowdown, is another question. It is a question that is linked to many other uncertainties about China’s future. China under Xi is becoming increasingly statist and militarized, thereby suggesting that naval shipbuilding will not suffer for lack of resources even as debt continues to spiral upward in state-owned enterprises. China’s very capable shipbuilding industry is closing remaining gaps with its Japanese and Korean rivals, even as Korean shipbuilders suffer unprofitability and rapidly-declining order books. However, China faces continued challenges in overcapacity and an aging workforce.
Moreover, a major mid-life maintenance bill for the overhauls of all new PLAN vessels will start coming due in the next 5-10 years. This will demand considerable resources—in money and shipyard space, with production and maintenance in potential competition. By then, China’s aging society may reorient resource allocation by stimulating “guns vs. butter,” and even “guns vs. canes” debates. The true long-term cost of sustaining top-tier sea power tends to eventually outpace economic growth by a substantial margin. For all its rapid rise at sea thus far, China is unlikely to avoid such challenging currents.
Dr. Andrew S. Erickson is a Professor of Strategy in the China Maritime Studies Institute and the recipient of the inaugural Civilian Faculty Research Excellence Award at the Naval War College. He serves on the Naval War College Review’s Editorial Board and is an Associate in Research at Harvard University’s John King Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Erickson blogs at http://www.andrewerickson.com.
The views expressed here are his alone and do not represent the policies or estimates of the U.S. Navy or any other organization of the U.S. government.
This editorial appears courtesy of CIMSEC and may be found in its original form here.
The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.
Source; Maritime Executive “Chinese Naval Shipbuilding: Full Steam Ahead”
Note: This is Maritime Executive’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
The following is the May 21, 2020 Congressional Research Service Report, China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress.
In an era of renewed great power competition, China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, has become the top focus of U.S. defense planning and budgeting. China’s navy, which China has been steadily modernizing for more than 25 years, since the early to mid-1990s, has become a formidable military force within China’s near-seas region, and it is conducting a growing number of operations in more-distant waters, including the broader waters of the Western Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and waters around Europe. China’s navy is viewed as posing a major challenge to the U.S. Navy’s ability to achieve and maintain wartime control of blue-water ocean areas in the Western Pacific—the first such challenge the U.S. Navy has faced since the end of the Cold War—and forms a key element of a Chinese challenge to the long-standing status of the United States as the leading military power in the Western Pacific.
China’s naval modernization effort encompasses a wide array of platform and weapon acquisition programs, including anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), submarines, surface ships, aircraft, unmanned vehicles (UVs), and supporting C4ISR (command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems. China’s naval modernization effort also includes improvements in maintenance and logistics, doctrine, personnel quality, education and training, and exercises.
China’s military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, is assessed as being aimed at developing capabilities for addressing the situation with Taiwan militarily, if need be; for achieving a greater degree of control or domination over China’s near-seas region, particularly the South China Sea; for enforcing China’s view that it has the right to regulate foreign military activities in its 200-mile maritime exclusive economic zone (EEZ); for defending China’s commercial sea lines of communication (SLOCs), particularly those linking China to the Persian Gulf; for displacing U.S. influence in the Western Pacific; and for asserting China’s status as the leading regional power and a major world power.
Consistent with these goals, observers believe China wants its navy to be capable of acting as part of a Chinese anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) force—a force that can deter U.S. intervention in a conflict in China’s near-seas region over Taiwan or some other issue, or failing that, delay the arrival or reduce the effectiveness of intervening U.S. forces. Additional missions for China’s navy include conducting maritime security (including antipiracy) operations, evacuating Chinese nationals from foreign countries when necessary, and conducting humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) operations.
The U.S. Navy in recent years has taken a number of actions to counter China’s naval modernization effort. Among other things, the U.S. Navy has shifted a greater percentage of its fleet to the Pacific; assigned its most-capable new ships and aircraft and its best personnel to the Pacific; maintained or increased general presence operations, training and developmental exercises, and engagement and cooperation with allied and other navies in the Indo-Pacific; increased the planned future size of the Navy; initiated, increased, or accelerated numerous programs for developing new military technologies and acquiring new ships, aircraft, unmanned vehicles, and weapons; begun development of new operational concepts (i.e., new ways to employ Navy and Marine Corps forces) for countering Chinese maritime A2/AD forces; and signaled that the Navy in coming years will shift to a more-distributed fleet architecture that will feature a smaller portion of larger ships, a larger portion of smaller ships, and a substantially greater use of unmanned vehicles. The issue for Congress is whether the U.S. Navy is responding appropriately to China’s naval modernization effort.