In a further sigh of growing Chinese naval confidence, self-sustainment, and broadened tactical and strategic capabilities, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has unveiled its new Type 075 Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) warship. The vessels - to number three - represent all-modern offerings of indigenous origins and re being constructed by the Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding Company of China. Their size and mission scope is comparable to the United State Navy's Wasp-class warships. Beyond the first Type 075 debuted on September 25th, 2019, the remaining two will arrive in 2020 and 2021 and all will be assigned to the Eastern Fleet.
The addition of a helicopter carrier considerably broadens China's tactical reach in amphibious-minded operations for the vessels provide a multi-pronged support approach which allows troops, vehicles (including waterborne fast-attack craft), and rotorcraft airpower to disembark and bring the fight to shore and beyond. This is particularly important considering the growing tensions with neighbors around the South China Sea - where Chinese forces already have a foothold through man-made islands and consistent power-projection sorties.
As completed, the Type 075 ships feature a running length of 250 meters, a beam measuring 30 meters, and a draught down to 8.5 meters. The latter quality is of note for this allows the ship to operate close-to-shore in supporting amphibious assault operations. Displacement reaches 40,000 ton under full load. The island superstructure is offset to the starboard side, leaving the center and port side unobstructed for rotorcraft operations. Powered hangar decks allow aircraft to be brought up or lowered as needed. At the rear face of the hull is a loading area offering unfettered access to the sea by amphibious boats ready to take men and machine to shore.
The vessel can carry up to thirty combat or support helicopters launched and retrieved from no fewer than six spots along its flight deck. These can consist of several types in PLAN service including transports (for troop ferrying and resupply) and gunships. The onboard armament suite of the vessel is wholly self-defensive in nature, amounting to just 2 x 30mm H/PJ-11 digitally-controlled Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWSs) and 2 x HHQ-10 Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launchers. It receives primary defense from its accompanying fleet which allows the Type 075 to concentrate on its given battlefield role.
Installed power allows the ship reach headway speeds up to 23 knots which provides the ship with good legs in keeping up with the PLAN surface fleet. The arrangement drives twin propeller shafts under the stern and control is through rudder fins positioned directly aft of each propeller unit. At the bow is housed a sonar unit while the island superstructure is home to the usual collection of sensors, processing systems, and communications fits as well as a bridge. An enclosed, low-profile smoke funnel is also featured there. Flight command is set at the rear of the bridge superstructure overlooking the flight deck and aft section of the ship. Forward and aft of the island superstructure are parking areas for additional ready-to-serve helicopters.
As a helicopter carrier, the Type 075 does not feature fixed-wing aircraft but may support ship-launched UAVs.
September 2019 - The first of three planned Type 075 vessels was dedicated and launched on September 25th, 2019.
April 2021 - CNS Hainan (31) was formally commissioned into service with the PLAN.
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