|Design plans for the 22,000-tonne Type 081 LHD|
By as early as 2014, the Chinese navy could have at its disposal a vessel that could dramatically change the face of an amphibious attack on Taiwan
A 22,000-tonne landing helicopter dock (LHD) under development in China has sparked alarm in defense circles in Taiwan, with some analysts saying the ship could cause a “strategic shift” in the Taiwan Strait.
The design, first unveiled by state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Co (CSIC, 中國船舶重工集團公司) — the country’s largest shipbuilding conglomerate — at the Defense and Security 2012 exhibition in Bangkok in early March, is believed to be the Type 081 LHD that defense enthusiasts have been expecting for years.
According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, CSIC confirmed the existence of a Type 081 program in 2007, but at the time it refused to disclose further details. The design phase of the vessel was reportedly completed in 2006, with engineering design beginning soon afterwards. The 211m long LHD will be capable of carrying an impressive eight helicopters on deck, with hangar space for four more, or for hovercraft. It will also have capacity to accommodate 1,068 marines and will be equipped with phased-array radar, four short-range air-defense launchers and anti-submarine warfare capability.
My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.