73 Years Of Mastery! China’s Navy Displays Its ‘Muscle Power’ With Amphibious Assault Ships, Destroyers & Anti-Sub Helos

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy announced the commissioning of six formidable warships and two types of advanced vessel-based helicopters on Saturday, marking the 73rd anniversary of the PLA Navy’s inception.

These accomplishments, as per the report, are a result of the Navy’s swift, phenomenal expansion in recent years, which has enabled the PLA Navy to staunchly protect its national sovereignty, security, and development interests. 

According to Chinese media, the Navy commissioned at least six new surface warships before its birthday, including a Type 075 amphibious assault ship, three Type 055 large destroyers, and two Type 052D destroyers. 

The Guangxi, China’s second Type 075 amphibious assault ship, is expected to shortly accompany the Hainan, the first ship of its class, in dual-ship formation training, the report said. The Hainan was commissioned precisely a year ago on April 23.

This, according to Chinese defense experts, has a significant bearing on the PLA’s rapid development of amphibious combat capabilities, since it demonstrates that the PLA Navy is swiftly reaching multi-domain, multidimensional landing capacity. 

The first Type 075 amphibious assault ship, Hainan, joined the Southern Theater Command, which is responsible for the South China Sea, while the second ship, Guangxi, joined the Eastern Theater Command, which is responsible for the East China Sea and the Taiwan Straits. 

The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy commissions its first Type 075 amphibious assault ship at a naval base in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province on April 23, 2021. The vessel is named the Hainan and has been given the hull number 31. Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy commissions its first Type 075 amphibious assault ship at a naval base in Sanya, South China’s Hainan Province on April 23, 2021. The vessel is named the Hainan and has been given the hull number 31. Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television

The induction of this ship is critical for Beijing, as many experts have asserted that its amphibious capabilities are insufficient for an invasion of Taiwan.

The Guangxi has already begun basic training, which includes navigation organization, combat rescue, and damage management, as well as integration activities with helicopters, amphibious armored vehicles, and air-cushioned landing boats. 

The report also highlighted that the ship will attain combat capabilities quickly because the first ship has already gained vital experience. 

As previously mentioned, the Navy has also announced the deployment of three 10,000 ton-class Type 055 large destroyers, the Anshan and Wuxi with the Northern Theater Command and the Yan’an with the Southern Theater Command. The total number of Type 055s in service now stands at six.

The Wuxi, which has just been in service for a month, hopes to be operational by 2022, according to the report’s comment from the ship’s skipper, Senior Captain Zhao Shuqian. 

File Image: A Z-8 helicopter with the flag of PLA (Wikimedia Commons)

The commissioning of two Type 052D destroyers, the Shaoxing and the Baotou, was also announced by the PLA Navy. The Baotou recently participated in a five-day live-fire training in the Yellow Sea, while the Shaoxing recently participated in a series of realistic combat drills conducted by the Eastern Theater Command Navy.

PLA Navy officials praised China’s high industrial strength and expanding national military capacity as the driving forces behind these acquisitions. 

China’s Third Aircraft Carrier

On Friday, the People’s Liberation Army Navy released a well-choreographed and professionally polished promotional trailer on Chinese aircraft carriers. The video includes rarely seen footage of the training and interior shots of China’s two aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and Shandong.

The video was Jointly produced by the PLA Navy Political Publicity Bureau and the PLA News Broadcasting Center. It also highlighted the carrier-based fighter jet J-15.

A naval officer had a phone call with his mother towards the conclusion of the film, who pushed him to have a “third child,” to which the officer answered, “That’s the plan.” The camera went from an image of the Liaoning to the Shandong as the phone call progressed, eventually stopping at a blank wall space. This implies that the country’s third aircraft carrier will be arriving shortly. 

On Saturday, however, when it was widely expected that the ship would be unveiled, there was no statement regarding the aircraft carrier. As previously reported by the EurAsian Times, Shanghai’s coronavirus lockdown has hampered the country’s shipbuilding program. 

The state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, a key contractor of PLA aircraft, is also expected to supply a new type of fighter jet to the new aircraft profession, according to the Global Times.

On Saturday, the company celebrated the Navy’s birthday by publishing a cartoon drawing of what appears to be an FC-31 stealth fighter jet flying from an aircraft carrier named “No. 3” on social media.

Photo: Aviation Industry Corporation of China

New Anti-Submarine Helicopter

China’s most advanced anti-submarine helicopter has entered service, as seen in footage released to commemorate the navy’s anniversary. The footage, which shows a Z-20 helicopter taking off from the deck of a Type 055 destroyer, was shown by state channel CCTV. 

Different variants of the helicopter – meant to transport soldiers or perform surveillance and rescue operations – have already entered service with the People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police, with the former participating in the National Day Parade in October 2019.

Footage of the helicopter in action. Photo: CCTV

Experts believe by increasing the fighting radius and carrying more guns, it will improve the navy’s anti-submarine capacity. According to Yue Gang, a retired PLA colonel, the Z-20 naval variant would replace the Harbin Z-9C and Russian-built Ka-28 helicopters that are presently deployed for anti-submarine missions.

The Navy is evolving from small boats to enormous ships, from coastal regions to the open waters, from individual sailors to the integrated structure, from airfields to carriers, and from maritime solely to all-terrain, and it is making progress, said the report.