Type 076 LHA - Aviation Assault Ship
A set of procurement request notices released by China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) 708 Institute stirred speculations among foreign and Chinese media about a new type of Chinese amphibious assault ship dubbed Type 076, which is purported to feature electromagnetic catapults, fixed wing aircraft and integrated electric propulsion system. Like China's Type 075 amphibious assault ship, the Type 076 could be deployed in island seizing operations in the South China Sea and the island of Taiwan, analysts said, noting that it could also be used to safeguard China's overseas interests, as China now has many citizens, investments, projects and strategic assets in countries around the world.
The largest of all amphibious warfare ships, the LHA resembles a small aircraft carrier. Key differences between an LHA and the LHD class ships include an enlarged hangar deck, enhanced aviation maintenance facilities, increased aviation fuel capacity, additional aviation storerooms, and removal of the well deck. Amphibious warships are designed to be able to sail in harm’s way and provide a rapid buildup of combat power ashore in the face of opposition. Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to also support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice.
An early 2020 RFPs relating to 076 LHA project showed it features UAV, EMALS, AAG, IEP, 30 tonnes elevator, 21MW gas turbine engine. Over the next several month, some well known sources indicated that PLAN plan to build a new type of Amphibious Assault Ship which operate the UAVs instead of the SVTOL like F-35B. In 29th July, POP3 said PLAN is going to build a new LHA ship - type 076. Reports of EMALS & UAV support requirements in the new PLAN Type 076 acquisition seems a lot more like a CVL or CVL(Q) than an LHD/LHA design. A well known military commentor says 076 is a true LHD using alternative way to solve the problem that the Chinese Navy does't have STOVL aircraft. The opinion on 076 is quite negative. While being a true amphibious assault ship, it is also in some way considered unnecessary.
CITIC International Tendering Co., Ltd. (the bidding agency) was entrusted by the 708th Research Institute of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (the bidder) to conduct domestic public bidding for projects and invite qualified bidders to submit sealed bid documents. Bidders should possess the third-level (including) confidentiality qualification unit certificate issued by the National Defense Weapons and Equipment Research and Production Unit Confidentiality Qualification Review and Certification Committee, and the certificate is valid. Deadline for bidding: 9:30 am, June 10, 2020 (Beijing time).
In the past two months, seven bidding announcements have been posted on the PLA’s military weapons and equipment bidding website, all of which are “XX6 project” announcements. Series design development contract bidding. I looked at the bidding project. It is a warship project. There are 21MW gas turbines, 6MW diesel engines, 1600KN main propulsion shafts, medium-voltage DC integrated power systems for ships, flight decks, organic storage, vehicle decks, vehicles and boats. The research of ship layout and access includes electromagnetic ejection, feasibility study of unmanned aerial vehicle, 30-ton inboard lift, integrated communication mast, and closed metamaterial mast. Then guess the name is 076 type amphibious landing ship, guess it is an amphibious landing ship with electromagnetic catapult, full electric propulsion system, full flight deck and dock, guess that carrier-based aircraft also has large drones in addition to helicopters. The total budget or bidding limit is 478.31 million yuan. The seven bid-winning announcements have come out, but you can’t see it without an account, you can only see the bidding announcement.
Seven documents about XX6 (076?) program were posted on the official platform of Procurement bidding for PLA:
- (56)(Electromagnetic XX device) Electric CXX installation X structure performance calculation and structural strength calculation guide
- (58). (Munitions Elevator) Elevator X Structure Performance Calculation and Structural Strength Calculation Guide
- (63). (Island) -island superstructure performance calculation
- (24). (Medium voltage DC integrated power system) Research on magnetic field characteristics and protection technology of the medium-voltage DC integrated power system
- (33). (UAV deck) Full J Multifunction Water Curtain System Optimization and Simulation Test Study (UAV deck) based on unmanned J deck
- (41).(Amphibious Assault Ship) Two Q Attack JHSH Protective Equipment Optimization and Washing Process Research
- (8).(30 tons flight deck elevator) 30 tons of in-board lift research and development
- (17). (1600kN Main Thrust shaft) 1600kN class main thrust bearing research and development
- (19).(6MW Diesel Engine) 6MW diesel engine inlet and exhaust silencer development
- (21).(21MW Gas Turbine) 21MW Grade Gas Turbine Intake Filter (Part Kit)
- (10). (EMALS) Development of electro-CTS slot ventilation and ventilation device
The Type-076 provides the PLAN with capabilities and flexibility not found in its previous landing ships, even more than the Type-071 and Type-075. China has developed stealth attack drones like the GJ-11, which made its debut at the 2019 National Day military parade, and the Type 076 could be equipped similar drones. The Type 076 could become more like a medium-sized aircraft carrier while still maintaining amphibious landing capabilities. China does not possess a STOVL fighter jet like the F-35B, but it has mastered technologies in electromagnetic launching systems, so some thought it made sense for China if it used electronic catapults to launch aircraft from amphibious assault ships as an alternative to STOVL aircraft to defend itself from hostile F-35B-equipped warships.
However, apart from a devotion to slavish and compulsive imitation of all things Western, it is not evident why the PLAN might wish to acquire such a capability. True, there is something to be said for symmetrical capabilties in which each and every permutation of the US Navy has a counterpart "with Chinese characterisitics" so as to deny the Americans any claim to escalation agility. But US Marine Corps fixed-wing aviation capabilities reflect a certain element of irrationality and historical happenstance, and a stiff resistance to jointness". The USMC acquired fixed wing capabilities in the Pacific War, and has retained them since, though in practice the deployment of carrier-based USCM aviation has been largely indistinguishable from that of the US Navy. Over 75 years later, the US Marine's F-35B STVOL fighter remains something of a capability in search of a mission. The prospect of Midway-style dueling LHAs between USMC F-25B and PLAN UCAVs is not overly plausible, as surely more robust big-deck and shore-based aviation assets would be brought to bear.
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