On the afternoon of Wednesday, 6 August 2020 (GMT +8), China’s first landing helicopter dock (LHD) was seen being guided by tugboats from Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard situated at the Yangtze River delta towards waters in the East Sea. This marks the start of Type 075’s sea trial.
The ship’s displacement is over 33,000 tonnes, spans 238 m and has a beam of 36 m. It is the largest amphibious assault ship yet built by China, while its predecessor, the Type 071 LPD merely displaces over 25,000 tonnes fully loaded. As such, the Type 075 has better endurance to the latter. Furthermore, the Type 075 features a flat-deck and larger hangar. This would bolster “three-dimensional” warfare capability of the ship and allow for greater operation flexibility.
In terms of capacity, the Type 075 can carry up to 28 helicopters. These include Z-10 attack helicopter, Z-19 reconnaissance helicopter, Z-8G transport helicopter, and Z-20 medium-utility helicopter. While the above helicopters will take up the majority capacity of the Type 075, it is worth to note that the ship itself is capable of supporting rotor wing UAV operations. We can come to such conclusion because PAR radar has been installed and a 1:1 mock-up of a helicopter drone was placed on deck previously. The deck is large enough to fit in two air-cushion landing crafts, and there is cargo space for over 20 amphibious assault vehicles.
The Type 075 features numerous close in weapons systems (CIWS). In fact, it is the most heavily defended amphibious assault ship out of all classes of LHD. With two of each HQ-10 launchers and H/PJ-11 CIWS guided by quick-reaction fire-control radars, it boasts high survivability against multi-directional saturation attacks in the level of aircraft carriers. This is considering that in the event of a continued civil war between People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Republic of China (ROC), Type 075 will be wrestling control for Taiwan’s coast in a strait merely 200 km under high concentration of firepower. The presence of these CIWS would provide critical defense against incoming aerial targets missed by frigates/destroyers.
Amongst some other capabilities that are worth mentioning but little details on ship’s onboard battle management system are available. The system, coupled with PLA’s latest high-speed data-link allows for quick coordination/management of fleet, making the Type 075 an ideal flagship, second to aircraft carriers. But for now, we will leave it here.