CHINA'S AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT FORCE
Asian Military Review|April/May 2021
To what extent has the Chinese Navy (PLAN) extended its capacity to conduct offensive amphibious operations?
JR Ng

Once largely aimed at constraining an adversary’s ability to approach and operate off the Chinese mainland’s coastal waters, the modernisation priorities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have evidently shifted to power projection in recent years.

This intent has been telegraphed by China’s latest defence white paper released in July 2019, which described how the PLA Navy (PLAN) is expanding its mission from “defence on the near seas” to “protection missions on the far seas.”

According to the 2020 China Military Power Report published by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the PLAN is now the numerically largest navy in the world with approximately 350 surface and underwater platforms, including 130 major surface combatants. This enables the service to operate at much greater distances from the mainland than previously possible.

The PLA Marine Corps (PLAMC) is widely seen to hold a privileged position within the vast Chinese armed forces because of its prominent role in asserting dominance in the South China Sea (SCS). As a result of this unique remit, the service has in recent years received greater attention in terms of funding, equipment, and higher-quality recruits than many of the other PLA forces.

The DoD also notes that the PLAN is responsible for organising, manning, training, and equipping the PLA’s naval and naval aviation forces as well as the PLA Marine Corps (PLAMC), which is subordinate to the Navy. Currently, the PLAN is believed to be capable of landing division-sized formations through amphibious operations.

A significant expansion of the PLAMC was initiated around 2017 following the transfer of four brigades from the PLA Ground Force (PLAGF) to supplement the two existing brigades at that time, which increased the size of the PLAMC from around 13,000 to an estimated 36,000 personnel.

Amphibious aims

In particular, the DoD pointed out that China’s sustained investment in amphibious warfare platforms such as helicopter and troop-carrying assault ships is a clear indication of its resolve to boost its expeditionary capabilities. The latest example of this would be the PLAN’s new Type 075 landing helicopter dock (LHD) – also known by its NATO reporting name of Yushen-class – which displaces an estimated 36,000 tonnes and measures approximately 236 metres in length with a 36m wide flight deck. This new class of amphibious assault ships represent the second-largest platforms operated by the PLAN in terms of displacement and size after its aircraft carriers.

The vessel is believed to be capable of supporting up to 30 helicopters, with six landing spots on its deck dedicated to helicopter launch and recover operations. It also features a floodable well deck that enables air-cushion landing craft and amphibious armoured vehicles to deploy directly from the ship during landing assault operations.

The rate at which it is building these large vessels is astounding. On 29 January, state-owned shipbuilder China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) launched the third Yushen LHD at its Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai. The completed hull was manoeuvred out of its dry dock to a pierside berth in the Huangpu River where it will undergo fitting out and further testing before being commissioned into service.

The lead ship was launched in September 2019, while the second was launched in April 2020. It is worth noting that all three Type 075 LHDs have entered the water within a timeframe of just 16 months.

The lead ship suffered an internal fire on 11 April during its fit-out, although the extent of damage caused is not known. It eventually resumed sea trials in the SCS and appears to be close to its commissioning after it left the HudongZhonghua shipyard and arrived at the PLAN’s new naval base on Hainan Island. The second Type 075 returned to the shipyard following the first phase of its sea trials, which commenced in December, and is likely to undergo further testing.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM ASIAN MILITARY REVIEWView All

SMART MUNITIONS INCREASE MARKET SHARE

Top attack munitions are now widely developed for different artillery calibers with varied ranges.

10 mins read
Asian Military Review
June/July 2021

NEXT GEN NVGS - A CLEAR IMPROVEMENT

Fused and enhanced night-vision technology will make the difference to soldiers fighting at night.

8 mins read
Asian Military Review
June/July 2021

MILITARY ROTORCRAFT DEVELOPMENT - NO MORE ‘STOVEPIPES'

New rotorcraft are going to come with new abilities founded on open systems that provide easier upgrade paths and cheaper through life costs.

8 mins read
Asian Military Review
June/July 2021

INDO PACIFIC UAV DIRECTORY 2021

The development of unmanned aerial vehicles is growing apace, especially in China. New longer range ISR platforms are also on the procurement list of several nations.

10+ mins read
Asian Military Review
June/July 2021

TIME TO RESET TRILATERAL RELATIONS

United States President Joe Biden has made it a top priority of his Administration to repair and re-energize global alliances during its first year in power. This is a necessary strategic and political calculus made in light of growing global security, public health, and environmental challenges that will require cooperation and multilateral contributions. President Trump’s ‘America first’ policy did much to undermine confidence in such relationships over his time in office.

3 mins read
Asian Military Review
June/July 2021

SOCPAC KEEN TO SHARE JOINT DOCTRINE AND TRAINING

The return of Great Power competition means that US SOCPAC is more than ever seeking joint training opportunities with regional special forces.

9 mins read
Asian Military Review
June/July 2021

MARINE ENGINE POWER - NOT JUST ABOUT KNOTS

Navies not only want more engine power, there are also coming under increasing pressure to become environmentally conscious.

9 mins read
Asian Military Review
June/July 2021

AMPHIBIOUS FORCES

New amphibious concepts are re-shaping marine forces to break the A2AD defensive line.

9 mins read
Asian Military Review
June/July 2021

SPACE V AIRBORNE ISR OR MIX AND MATCH

Owning satellite based ISR for military use is still an exclusive ‘club’, but airborne ISR still provides that most countries need.

9 mins read
Asian Military Review
April/May 2021

SHIPBUILDING - A NUMBERS GAME

While experience grows among Indo-Pacific naval designers, order numbers remain crucial to keeping costs down and yards in business.

10+ mins read
Asian Military Review
April/May 2021
RELATED STORIES

HAND-ME-DOWN DART

STEVE HINCKLEY RESTORED THIS 1965 DART THAT HAS BEEN IN HIS FAMILY FOR THREE GENERATIONS

4 mins read
Hot Rod
March 2022

4 Yoga Asana To Heal Rotator Cuff Injury

After a rotator cuff injury, proper shoulder strengthening exercises should be employed. There are specific yoga poses that can help to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and they include the following:

2 mins read
Women Fitness
January 2022

Deconstructing the Flexitarian Diet

How being a part-time vegan can make you healthier.

4 mins read
Better Nutrition
January 2022

Better Call Ken

The Texas Attorney General provided a radical legal pretext to overturn the election. Now he’s using the same tactics to gut Roe v. Wade.

10+ mins read
Mother Jones
January/February 2022

Clippings Calls for Sustainable Gardening

Our roundup of the month’s latest gardening news and views

8 mins read
Gardeners World
January 2022

Planet Protectors

AI and Big Data to Help Feed the World

10 mins read
Newsweek
December 24, 2021

An Insider's Guide to Andrographis

Andro what? It isn’t as well-known as echinacea or elderberry, but andrographis—or Andrographis paniculata by its Latin name—may deliver even more powerful relief from colds, flu, and other infections.

4 mins read
Better Nutrition
December 2021

Destinos 2022

Rumbo a la aventura. Islas paradisíacas, ciudades con mucho arte, nuevos parques nacionales y destinos que reabren sus fronteras esperan al viajero en un año que promete grandes experiencias.

10+ mins read
Viajar
Diciembre 2021

WITNESS PROTECTION DRUG SNITCH BLOWN AWAY!

Alpo Martinez paid ultimate price for going back to the hood

2 mins read
Globe
November 22, 2021

Perks of Propagating

A step-by-step guide to multiplying your most prized succulents.

3 mins read
Birds & Blooms
December 2021/January 2022