China Develops New Amphibious Ships
By Faith Magbanua, January 20, 2018 01:01 AM
Reports from Thursday claims that Beijing has finally developed a new "landing ship" that could be "possibly" used in future wars involving islands.
Prior to the report, the news follows a story last month as a Chinese official threatened that the communist nation would invade Taiwan if a U.S. warship visited the self-ruling island.
Furthermore, the Chinese state media have recently played up coverage of "island encirclement" exercises near the democratic island, including showing a Chinese bomber.
"China is developing Type 071 ships to meet requirements of possible wars involved with islands in the future, which could help it gain advantages in solving disputes on islands as well as questions involved with Taiwan," Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert, was quoted as telling the Beijing-controlled Global Times newspaper this week.
Meanwhile, the report about the new amphibious warship was republished Thursday on China Military Online, the news website of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
"It could also deliver the navy and the army to the target island," Song added. "The expanding number of this type of ships could greatly enhance the PLA Navy's amphibious warfare capability."
It is also reported last month that the Chinese military had conducted at least 16 rounds of exercises close to Taiwan in roughly the past year.
"I think they are looking realistically to get Taiwan back in the near future," Denny Roy, an Asia Pacific security expert and senior fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu told CNBC Thursday. The think tank's defense expert said Beijing's strategy may be to effectively "frighten Taiwan into submitting without a fight."
However, the Chinese military is believed to have at least four amphibious ships as well as two aircraft carriers, including the domestically-built Liaoning that launched last year. In comparison, the U.S. has 10 carriers in its fleet and around 16 of the largest class of amphibious assault ships. Furthermore, late last year, Beijing announced it planned to quadruple the size of its naval fighting force.
"If you're going to multiply the size of your naval infantry force by four, it follows that you're going to have a lot more amphibious ships," said Dean Cheng, a defense expert and senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based conservative think tank.
Dean Cheng have also told other news sources that Beijing's naval buildup could put Taiwan at risk.
Beyond those increases, China is also spending more on its air force, which include developing advanced fighters. The air force and navy forces, on the other hand, could potentially be used to conduct a blockade of Taiwan.
"They keep saying that, 'we have to be prepared to retake Taiwan,'" said Cheng. "But they've never really invested in the naval infantry, over-the-shore capabilities that would be required. Now we're seeing them do it as almost the last block being put in place."
Though it is still not clear on how many Type 075 assault ships China intends to build, the vessel is roughly 40,000-ton and will afford the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) significant power projection capabilities.
On the other hand, the war-ship will be able to carry 30 helicopters onboard-six of which would be able to takeoff simultaneously from the flight deck. In addition to that, massive 820-foot long-with a 98.4-foot beam-vessels will also feature a well-deck for launching ship-to-shore connectors and amphibious vehicles of various types.
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