Just weeks after the first Type 075 Landing Helicopter Dock was commissioned into the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), a second is set to begin sea trials, while a third is now under construction. The builder is Hudong–Zhonghua Shipbuilding, the largest shipbuilding group in China and the second-largest shipbuilding conglomerate in the world.
The first vessel of this type, Hainan, was commissioned earlier this month – and images released by state media showed Z-8 helicopters on the deck. It is a potentially versatile warship that the U.S. Navy will need to take very seriously. As the largest amphibious landing helicopter dock outside of the U.S. Navy, the Type 075 will be able to operate as a small aircraft carrier, suggested military analysts, if Beijing were to develop aircraft that could operate on such a naval platform.
The Type 075 (NATO reporting name Yushen-class landing helicopter assault) is capable of carrying attack helicopters but could also serve the same purpose as any western aircraft carrier equipped with Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II jet fighters.
Development of the Landing Helicopter Dock class of vessels officially started in 2011 as a way to offer new amphibious capabilities to the PLAN. The Type 075 features a full-length flight deck for helicopter operations with Z-8 but also with Z-20, Z-10, Z-19 rotorcraft as well as rotorcraft UAVs. It can also serve as a platform for short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft such as the F-35B or AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft.
The Chinese warship is actually comparable to the U.S. Navy’s Wasp-class amphibious assault ships (LHD), albeit slightly smaller; it displaces 30,0000 to 40,000 tonnes and features a floodable well deck from which to disembark hovercraft and armored amphibious assault vehicles.