China's new amphibious assault ship to carry multi-type helicopters, 'enters world-class' ranks
The newly commissioned amphibious assault ship of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy will carry multiple types of helicopters including those for assault, transport and reconnaissance, and analysts said on Tuesday that the vessel is of world-class standard and can serve its purpose well in islands and reefs close to the Chinese mainland despite the lack of fixed wing fighter jet like the US' F-35B.
After the Hainan, China's first Type 075 amphibious assault ship, entered PLA naval service on Friday, the insignia of the vessel was revealed by js7tv.cn, a video news website affiliated with the PLA, on Monday.
In addition to an artistic depiction of the Hainan, the insignia also featured what seem to be the Z-20 and Z-8 helicopters and a helicopter drone landing on and flying above the ship's flight deck, observers pointed out.
This indicates that the Hainan will carry multiple types of helicopters in its future missions, analysts said. During the commissioning ceremony on Friday, only Z-8 helicopters were seen on the flight deck of the Hainan.
These helicopters will be the main aerial combat forces of the Type 075, Shi Hong, executive chief editor of the Chinese magazine, Shipborne Weapons, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Responsible for aerial transport and assault tasks, the Z-8 and the Z-20 can carry troops deep behind hostile defense lines in vertical landing missions, Shi said.
The Z-8 is a 13 ton-class helicopter also capable of carrying small vehicles, while the Z-20 belongs to the 10 ton-class and is more versatile and agile. Both types can also lift equipment like light artillery to provide extra fire support to landing troops when they arrive on the ground, experts said.
Helicopter drones, which are even smaller in size, can conduct reconnaissance and battlefield monitoring missions, Shi said, noting that aerial fire support is another possible role.
In the future, attack helicopters like the Z-10 and Z-19 affiliated with the PLA Army aviation forces could also board the Type 075, Shi predicted.
Previous reports show that these Army helicopters have been training on the Navy's Type 071 amphibious landing ships, so it makes sense they can also do so on the Type 075, analysts said.
Compared with the US Navy's amphibious assault ships, China's Type 075 has also entered world-class ranks thanks to its advanced ship design including stealth capability and electronics devices, Shi said, noting that China's Type 05 amphibious assault vehicle on board the Type 075 is more advanced than the US' AAV-7, as the Chinese vehicle is three times faster in water than its US counterpart, giving it an edge in landing missions and a better ability to survive under enemy fire.
The US ships can carry CH-53 heavy helicopters, MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft and F-35B fighter jets, something that China does not have an equivalent to as yet, but the US amphibious vessels are required for worldwide deployment, while China's Type 075, in the near future, will mainly fight in waters near the Chinese mainland, where China's land-based and aircraft carrier-based aviation forces can provide sufficient support, Shi said.
In addition to the Hainan, China has launched two more Type 075 amphibious assault ships, which are currently undergoing outfitting work and sea trials.