The Chinese navy’s first Type 075 amphibious assault ship has achieved initial operating capability, according to the Chinese state-backed Global Times newspaper in a report earlier in March.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy ship, called the Hainan, is expected to visit ports around the world during the next year before reaching full operational capability. The ship is expected to undergo additional training during the next year, but is already capable of participating in basic operations.
The Type 075 is roughly comparable to the U.S. Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault ships that feature a well deck and aviation facilities.
“Often dubbed a helicopter carrier, the vessel can carry a large number of helicopters in addition to amphibious armored vehicles and tanks, and launch both horizontal and vertical landing missions on islands and reefs, and even land from the sea, analysts said,” the Global Times said.
The Global Times reports that the Hainan will be capable of participating in a wide range of missions including counter-terror operations, humanitarian relief, and sea defense, but also said “military analysts expect that the Type 075 will play vital roles in possible operations on the island of Taiwan.” The article also mentioned potential operations in the South China Sea.
While the Type 075 represents a significant advancement in amphibious warfare capabilities for the PLA Navy, China’s military likely still lags behind the U.S. Navy in several areas. The PLA Navy lacks a fifth-generation aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing operations like the United States’ F-35B. The American V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and a new generation of landing craft capable of operating from amphibious warships also improve the abilities of American amphibious assault ships.
The PLA Navy continues to build out its amphibious fleet. Two additional Type 075 ships have already been launched and are in the early stages of their service. The U.S. Navy operates nine similar amphibious assault ships; seven Wasp-class vessels and two America-class helicopter assault ships.
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.