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Type 071 Yuzhao LPD - Capabilities

The Type 071's role is not limited only to the Taiwan scenario. It seems more likely to be useful in the South China Sea, as a means of intervening in the Spratly Islands. This interpretation is reinforced by the homeport of the first ship, which is based at the South Sea Fleet's headquarters at Zhanjiang Naval Base in Guangdong Province. The 1st and 2nd Marine Brigades are stationed at this facility. With its strong self-contain capability the LPD could operate far from friendly shores, projecting amphibious assets over distance of several thousand nautical miles. The ample space onboard also allows additional communications equipments to be added for the ship to act as a fleet command and control center in an amphibious operation.

The Yuzhou class LPD represents a major step forward in the Chinese plan for a blue water navy, significantly improving the PLA Navy's sea-lift and power projection capabilities. Vessels without protected well-deck areas experience functional and safety problems while conducting roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) and load-on/load-off (LO/LO) operations because of the instability of the ship-to-surface craft interface. Landing platforms alongside the sea-going vessel remain operationally limited for servicing ship-to-shore craft, especially during military operations. These platforms are subject to craft interface instabilities, limited docking area for the ship-to-shore craft, and limited flexibility of cargo placement within the platforms. The landing platform dock, however, overcomes these limitations for cargo loading and other operations of ship-to-surface craft.

The PLAN had long been projected to operate large amphibious ships similar to the LSD/LPD concept. Such a ship will enable PLA/Marine forces to operate far from home waters, and enhance the PLAN's ability to rapidly mobilize troops in any amphibious assault. The Type 071 LPD offers much increased sea lifting capacity and operational flexibility not possessed by the conventional tank landing ships (LST) in the current PLA Navy service. Some have speculated that in a possible offensive operation to seize Taiwan, the Type 071 could be used to launch an amphibious assault from the Pacific side of the island, where the island's defense is relatively weak. But the Pacific side of the Island is generally mountainous, and not promising country for an amphibious assault.

In addition to traditional amphibious assault role, the Type 071 LPD could also be deployed for a whole range of non-military missions, for example, providing a sea-based platform for helicopters to send humanitarian aids to a disaster area and evacuate casualties and refugees from the area; or evacuating citizens from conflict zones.

China's China State Shipbuilding and Trading Corp (CTSC) consortium has offered to build a modified version of the 071 LPD for the Malaysian Navy. The Malaysian Navy has a requirement for a 13,000 ton LPD. The Chinese-built 071 LPD is said to cost only about one-third of a comparable US-built San Antonio-class LPD. However, as of mid-2008 Malaysia had made no decision on the purchase.

The August 2009 US Office of Naval Intelligence report "The People's Liberation Army Navy: A Modern Navy With Chinese Characteristics" stated "Humanitarian assistance and naval diplomacy missions may leverage conventional naval forces, but are more likely to concentrate on flexible expeditionary and multimission capabilities able to respond quickly to crises and provide logistical support at extended ranges from shore. The PRC is unlikely to build ships exclusively for humanitarian assistance missions; however, multimission ships like the Yuzhao LPD and Anwei AH hospital ship will be key assets in support of humanitarian or diplomatic missions."

In Defense Ministry spokesperson Geng Yansheng's regular press conference on February 23, 2012, he was asked "We know that the second LPD or a large amphibious ship of the PLA Navy will be deployed to the South China Sea Fleet. It is said that it will arouse more concerns from the surrounding countries about the development of the PLA Navy. Its also reported in the future six LPDs of this kind will be deployed towards that direction. What is the commentary of the Ministry of National Defense on that? And secondly, can you also elaborate a bit more on the purpose of the PLA development on such large scale amphibious ships?

"A: In an era when science and technology are making stunning progress, it is quite normal for countries to renovate or upgrade their weapons and equipment. China is in no exception. We have repeated on several occasions that the purpose of Chinas development of its own weaponry and equipment is totally for its requirement of its national security; it does not aim at any particular or specific country or target. What I want to point out here is that, actually, quite a number of newly developed weapons of the PLA Navy were used in quite a number of foreign military activities, playing a quite positive role and maintaining world or regional peace and stability. For example, from July 2010 to February 2011, the PLA Navys LPD Kunlunshan participated in the sixth ship group to provide escort services in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast; it have done its jobs quite well."

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Page last modified: 20-03-2017 16:02:54 ZULU