China launches 3rd Type 075 amphibious assault ship

China launched on Friday its third Type 075 amphibious assault ship — a genre of warship often referred to as helicopter carrier with the ability to conduct amphibious landing missions.

China has now launched three of the large warships at an astonishing speed since the second half of 2019, with Chinese military experts saying 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.

With assistance from several tug boats, China’s third domestically built Type 075 amphibious assault ship was launched from the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai on Friday.

The first Type 075 was launched on September 25, 2019, and the second one on April 22, 2020. All three were built in Shanghai, according to media reports.

The fast, concentrated construction and launches of the Type 075s indicate that China does not face any technical difficulties when building warships of this class, so they can now be mass produced, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told the Global Times on Friday.

Wei said that the exact number of Type 075s to be built will be determined by the actual needs of the PLA Navy.

China has urgent strategic and tactical needs in amphibious assault ship development; that is, it requires such warships to safeguard territorial integrity and sovereignty in the island of Taiwan and the South China Sea, multiple experts told the Global Times previously.

Boasting an advanced design, the Type 075 has a flat flight deck to carry transport helicopters that can rapidly send troops from a long distance at sea to the costal frontline or into the depths of hostile defense positions. It can also carry attack helicopters to provide fire support for landing troops, Wei said, adding that it can carry air-cushioned landing crafts, main battle tanks and armored vehicles on its hangar deck.

More Type 075 amphibious assault ships will boost the PLA Navy’s capability to project power to the high seas and effectively safeguard China’s overseas interests, since this ship class can act as a portable maritime base in amphibious missions, Wei said.

During peacetime, the ships can also be involved in humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions, experts said.

Chinese and overseas media reported recently that the first Type 075 has been conducting sea trials in the South China Sea since late 2020 and could be close to commissioning. The second ship has already finished its first sea trial which started in December 2020.

The Hudong-Zhonghua shipbuilding company, the manufacturer of the Type 075s, is building and moving to a new and more advanced shipyard on Changxing Island, Shanghai, and the new site’s phase-I project is planned to be completed by 2023, the company said earlier this month.

Foreign media also speculated in mid-2020 that China is designing a newer amphibious assault ship dubbed the Type 076. Reports claimed it could feature electromagnetic catapults, fixed wing aircraft (including drones) and integrated electric propulsion systems.

The Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard also launched the second Type 054A/P frigate for Pakistan on Friday.

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