Friday, July 20, 2012

Houbei-class catamarans, mystery landing ship take part in PLAN drills

A Type 022 Houbei catamaran fires an anti-ship missile
Although China said the drill was routine and did not target any country, the emphasis on amphibious assault operations sent a strong message to Japan 

Eight Type 022 Houbei fast-attack missile catamarans and a “new” type of landing ship were the main features of a five-day live-ammunition naval exercise held by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in waters off Zhoushan and Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, from 10 July through July 15, amid rising tensions in the East China Sea. 

My article, published today in Jane’s Defence Weekly, can be accessed here (subscription required).

NOTE: I, along with my sources, have been unable to identify the purported “new” type of landing ship, and so far Chinese authorities have been mum on the subject. One source told me that for China, anything fielded in the past decade is “new,” while another source said the current tensions in the East China Sea over the Diaoyutai/Senkaku islands may have led Chinese media to play things up a little. About a dozen combat aircraft, and as many destroyers, also took part in the exercise.

Meanwhile, a fifth (11th in the entire PLAN) Type 054A FFG (hull 572 Hengshui) was commissioned into the South Sea Fleet on July 9.

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