Type 72 II / Type 72-III
Generally similar to the YuKan class in bow and bridge structures, the YuTing class has a new large helicopter deck for operating 2 medium helicopters to augment amphibious lift capabilities. It has the capacity to hold 250 troops, 10 tanks, and 4 LCVPs, and is armed with 6 37mm/63 guns firing 180rds/min to a range of 8.5 km.
"As the PLA moved from a light infantry force to a mechanized one, they can begin to take full advantage of what LSTs can offer. PLA LSTs can debark both Amphibious Light Tanks (ALT) and Amphibious Armored Personal Carriers (AAPC) out of both the stern and the bow gates a mile off shore instead of disembarking them right at the beach. This allows the larger vessels to remain at some distance from enemy fire."
Intended to replace World War II-built ex-US Navy tank landing ships, by early 2001 the construction program had completed a total of seven ships, with at least three more expected to follow shortly.
China's naval force has an insufficient number of large-scale and advanced landing ships and lacks such indispensable ship varieties as amphibious assault ships and dock landing ships. China's current amphibious landing capability is largely restricted to the several Yuting and Yukan-class landing ships. The PLAN's amphibious fleet provides sealift sufficient to transport approximately one infantry division. The PLAN also has hundreds of smaller landing craft, barges, and troop transports, all of which could be used together with fishing boats, trawlers, and civilian merchant ships to augment the naval amphibious fleet. Shortcomings in long-range lift, logistics, and air support, however, hinders China's ability to project amphibious forces.
In mid 2002, pictures began to surface on webboards indicating that China was building additional landing ships, based on the Yuting design. These ships, which are larger than the Type 72-II and features a re-designed superstructure. Pictures posted on the China Defence Forum indicate that seven ships of the class are in varying degrees of construction, or have launched. Jane's Fighting Ships 2003-04 does not indicate that there is a difference in the new ships compared to the older ones, and the Department of Defense has not mentioned the ships in the 2002 or 2003 report on China's military capabilities. Chinese Defence Today has assigned these ships as being the Type 72-III.
These LSTs are generally similar to Type 072-II Yuting Class in service with the PLAN since the early 1990s. It is slightly larger, and with a clear airtight superstructure the helicopter facility seems to be improved, but there is still no hangar. The armament seems to be the standard Type 63F 37mm AA gun installed on the Type 72-II class.
During 2003 three new medium class-landing ships were completed at Shanghai. Hull numbers 3315, 3316 and 3232 are triple-bow formatted landing ships with an estimated capability of beaching a load of over 250 tons each.
As chronicled by photographs on the internet, between 2002 and 2004 Beijing has begun construction of at least seven of these new landing ship/tanks (LST). By early 2005 at least 4 Type 072-III LSTs had been completed, increasing their inventory of LSTs from 16 to 20.
As of February 2005 a total of four tank landing ships were under construction.
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