Wednesday, May 29, 2013

China’s amphibious game changer?

A Zubr LCAC during sea trials
The European Bison, the largest Landing Craft Air Cushion in service, could play a major role in amphibious operations in the South China Sea 

Amid simmering tensions in East Asia over a series of sovereignty disputes at sea, where new, unpredictable bouts of escalation are always around the corner, China has continued to build up the capabilities it will need should it one day decide to use force.

 The latest addition to its growing arsenal — the world’s largest Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicle — reached Guangzhou earlier this month, and could enter service soon. 

The vehicle in question, a Ukraine-built “Zubr” amphibious hovercraft (also known as the “European bison”), is part of a US$315 million deal signed between China and the state-owned Ukroboronprom defense conglomerate in 2009. Under the agreement, two LCACs, developed by the Ukrainian Almaz Central Marine Design Bureau, are to be built by the Ukraine-based Feodosia Shipbuilding Company, and two more by Chinese shipyards, under the supervision of Ukrainian engineers. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

No comments: