The People’s Republic of China launched its third 075 class amphibious assault ship today, January 29, and the ships may be part of a plan to eventually carry out a military assault on Taiwan, according to some sources.
Beijing’s communist mouthpiece Global Times reported today that the third 075 amphibious assault ship was launched from the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai, noting that the three warships launched so far were manufactured at “an astonishing speed.”
“The country has cleared technical difficulties in building such kinds of vessel, and more can be built based on the needs of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy,” Global Times reported. “They can now be mass produced,” Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst told Global Times, adding that “the exact number of Type 075s to be built will be determined by the actual needs of the PLA Navy.”
The flat-decked ships are designed to carry transport and attack helicopters, along with landing craft, battle tanks, armored vehicles, and troops to the coastal frontline, Wei said.
The first 075 class amphibious assault ship was launched in September, 2019, and has recently been conducting sea trials in the South China Sea, while a second was launched in April, 2020, and underwent its first sea trials in December 2020.
With an estimated length of 237 meters, and displacement of an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 tons, the ships are, in terms of size and tonnage, the third-largest amphibious assault ships in the world, after the US Navy’s Wasp class, and America class amphibious assault vessels.
The ships are being produced at “an impressive rate” of one every six months and a total of eight are said to be on order from the PLA Navy, according to Naval News.
The ships are being built and launched so fast it’s like “dropping dumplings into water,” Chinese military commentators have said in Chinese media reports.
“The Type 075 considerably elevates China’s ability to transport, land, and support ground forces operating outside the Chinese mainland,” according to Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The type 075 features a full-length flight deck for helicopter landings which could also serve as a platform for short take-off and vertical landing aircraft if China develops such aircraft, CSIS reported, noting that the ships contain a floodable well deck for hovercraft and other landing vehicles to be deployed.
CSIS estimates that the 075 would be able to deploy approximately 900 troops.
In December, 2020, People’s Daily reported that the ships are designed mainly to “conduct vertical deployment and landing missions on islands and reefs like the island of Taiwan and those in the South China Sea.” The report quoted military analysts who said “China will soon gain significant capabilities in amphibious landing, which are vital in regions like the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea.”
“The Type 075 amphibious assault ships are expected to make a possible reunification-by-force operation one of their top priorities,” Global Times quoted an analyst as saying in a November 2020 report. “Both the South China Sea and East China Sea fleets are tasked with preparations targeting Taiwan secessionists, so it would be normal for the warship to join either fleet,” Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie told Global Times.
After launching a military build-up with a priority of keeping the United States at bay off the coast of China starting in the mid-1990s, the 075 ships are part of a plan to ” challenge American power further afield,” David Lague wrote in a Reuters report July 2020.
The Type 075 amphibious assault ships “will form the spearhead of an expeditionary force to play a role similar to that of the U.S. Marine Corps,” Lague says, noting that China is expanding its marine force at the same time as it is churning out the assault ships.
” China now has between 25,000 and 35,000 marines, according to U.S. and Japanese military estimates. That’s a sharp increase from about 10,000 in 2017,” Lague wrote.
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