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Thread: China’s Navy Gets Its Act Together, and Gets Aggressive

  1. #121

    Launch of the head of Type 056 Chinese Corvette class

    May 22, 2012 in the night at the Hudong Shipyard in Shanghai (part of the China state shipbuilding corporation - CSSC) the head unit of the Type 056 Corvette for the Chinese Navy was launched. Construction of the ship started in 2010.

    Type 056 Corvette on the launch ramp, about to enter the water
    (Picture: Chinese Internet)

    According to some sources China is currently building a large series of Type 056 corvettes. At the Hudong Shipyard a second vessel of this type can be seen on the assembly line. These corvettes are not only intended for the Chinese Navy. They are also being marketed for export.

    Type 056 Corvette in the water, docked at the Hudong Shipyard
    (Picture: Chinese Internet)

    Type 056 Corvette Export Specifications:

    Length: 89 meters
    Full load displacement: 1,300 tonnes
    Max speed: 25 knots
    Crew: 60
    Range: 2,000 nm at 18 knots
    Endurance: N/A


    2x SSM Launchers
    1x8-Cell SAM
    1x 76mm gun
    2x 30mm gun

    This is an earlier article on these...........

    China Looks to the Future With New Corvette

    By James C. Bussert, SIGNAL Magazine

    May 2011

    Advanced ship technologies now will help patrol littoral waters.

    China has departed from tradition with a new naval ship design that may be the vanguard of an entirely new class of littoral warships. These corvette-type vessels feature modernized systems that offer China unprecedented flexibility in a range of sea missions.

    This new corvette design shows the Chinese commitment for increased People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) future littoral water goals, as does the littoral combat ship for the U.S. Navy. Only two new surface ships have been serial-built in multiple Chinese shipyards recently—the 053 Jiangkai series frigates and the 022 Houbei series missile catamarans. The corvette may be the third, and it promises enhanced capabilities that are offered only piecemeal on other ships.

    Rumors have been circulating that the next mass-production warship would be a corvette, and the first picture of what it would look like appeared in a Hong Kong University press release with a photograph of a Type 056 model in November 2010. Because the deputy commander of the Hong Kong military garrison, Maj. Gen. Wang Junli, PLA, presented it to Hong Kong University Vice-Chancellor Lap-Chee Tsui, some observers have suggested that the 056 would replace the six Houjian fast attack craft (FAC) based in Hong Kong since 1997. Chinese sources claim that the 056 is intended to replace old Houxin attack craft and early 053S series frigates.

    PLAN Jiangkai II modern frigates weigh 3,400 tons without combat load and crew (light load) and 3,800 tons with fuel, ammunition, stores and crew (full load). However, the earlier 053S series frigates in the 1970s weighed 1,400 to 1,700 tons. Although the 056 tonnage is not confirmed, the size in the illustrations could be approximate to that. The ship certainly is not similar to the 528-ton Houjian or the 478-ton Houxin attack craft range. In fact, a tonnage estimate of between 1,000 and 1,800 tons shows the lack of information. The 056 seems intended to replace the decommissioned Jiangnan frigates and the 20 obsolete Jianghu I and II series frigates remaining in the East and South Sea Fleets. The comparison of hull lengths seems to back up this conclusion, with the attack craft having hull lengths of 63 and 65 meters compared to Jianghu I length of 103 meters and 056 estimated length of 90 meters.

    Topside are many common sensors and weapons, with the exception of a new-generation surface-to-air missile (SAM) and the modern automatic Russian AK-176 gun mount. Going from fore to aft, a medium-size bow sonar dome likely is the SO7H or another similar medium frequency sonar along with associated twin six-barrel antisubmarine warfare (ASW) launchers on the forecastle. The ASW rockets are the Chinese Type 87 with six 252-millimeter barrels. They are modified by China from the five-barrel Russian RBU-1200 ASW launcher. China added a sixth barrel and increased the range from 1,200 meters to 3,200 meters. These are adequate for littoral small vessel self-protection.

    Further aft on the bow is the Chinese copy of the Russian AK-176 76-millimeter dual-purpose gun. The 056 is the first small PLAN warship to have this new-generation main battery—the much larger 20,000-ton landing platform dock, or LPD, Type 071 contained the first one three years ago. The AK-176 fires 120 rounds per minute (RPM) with a maximum range of 15 kilometers compared to the Jianghu 100-millimeter gun with a range of more than 20 kilometers but a firing rate of only 15 RPM. The old Russian 100-millimeter gun fired 30 to 50 RPM, but it was downgraded for export to China.

    Except for maximum range, the AK-176 has many advantages over the older 100-millimeter gun. The older gun needed a crew of five to six men and weighed 49 tons, compared to the AK-176’s two-man crew and gun mount weight of only 16 tons with seven times the RPM rate. Even though the Jianghu had guns fore and aft, the 056’s single AK-176 puts out four times as many rounds as two 100-millimeter guns.

    Aft of the bridge is an I/J band, Type 347G gun fire-control radar. This compares to an optical 100-millimeter fire control system (FCS) on the Jianghu. The enclosed mast aft of the radar has what appear to be two electronic countermeasure (ECM) globes on each side and one on the forward side. They are not found on the Jianghu. These ECM units would be passive intercept and active jamming antennas. Farther up is a standard RACAL RM 1290 I-band navigation radar, and above that is a common Type 360 E/F band Seagull surface search radar. There appear to be antiaircraft small-caliber gun mounts on both sides, possibly a 30-millimeter Type 730 Gatling gun close-in weapon system. Just forward of the stack are two square surface-to-surface missile (SSM) launchers with two cells each, which probably contain the latest YJ-83 SSMs. These are far more capable than the four Mach 0.8, 40-kilometer range SY-1 SSMs equipping the Jianghus, which were copies of early Soviet Styx or Chinese Silkworm missiles. The YJ-83 has a speed of Mach 1.6 with a range of 200 kilometers.

    Aft of the stack are two radomes that might contain satellite navigation or communication antennas. The next two systems aft on the O-2 deck are both new. Because the aft system is a new 24-cell FL-3000N SAM launcher, one would expect the pedestal forward to be the associated missile fire control director. However, the FL-3000N missile has passive infrared (IR) and radio frequency, or RF, onboard sensors, so it does not require any topside fire control director. The FL-3000N has an FCS that can control two launchers on larger ships, but the 056’s systems more likely would be controlled by the existing 056 weapon FCS. The designation of this FCS is unknown because the PLAN has used new FCS designations on new vessels.

    The 2-meter-long missile features two IR sensor horns protruding externally on the nose of the missile. Introduced at the 2008 Zhuhai air show, the FL-3000 is intended for land-based, aircraft and naval platforms. This weapon promises to be on next-generation platforms and backfitted to replace earlier-generation anti-air missiles. Internet Web pictures show the FL-3000N being installed on the ex-Varyag carrier, and some reports state that it is to be installed on large auxiliary vessels. Poor-resolution illustrations make it difficult to identify two cylinders on the ends of a horizontal mast, although they look like HN-900 datalinks. Tactical datalinks are mandatory on this vessel for coordinated tactics.

    A small, flat antenna on top appears to be a helicopter landing radar. A flight deck carrying the general-purpose Z-9 helicopter would be a great advantage with ASW and other multipurpose mission capabilities. In the Aden Gulf deployment operations, the PLAN has raved about the versatility of the 054A helicopters in all missions.

    Illustrations of the stern show an object under the flight deck that would be where a variable-depth sonar (VDS) could be located, but it is very unlikely that a littoral ship would carry a deep-water sensor like that. China has not installed a VDS on a warship since the two Luhu-class guided missile destroyers (DDGs) in 1991.

    The 056 has a pair of 8-meter whip antennas and a 6-meter one aft on the stack, a pair of 7-meter whips aft on the O-1 deck, and two 5-meter whips on the bridge. Chinese-language naval journals are the initial source of 056 illustrations, but they vary in systems shown. Modern Ships 2011 issue 01A shows bow ASW launchers, nothing on the deck above the bridge and two radomes aft of the stack. Naval and Merchant Ships 2011 issue 1 shows no forward ASW launchers or aft radomes, but it does show a box-shaped system above the bridge that looks similar to an E-O director.

    Below-decks systems are expected to be standard frigate systems but with more automatic control panels such as those used for power distribution. Chinese vessels smaller than DDGs have been using 16PA6V-280 sequential turbocharging (STC) series of diesel engines that have been license-built by Shanxi Diesel for two decades. The Shanxi plant has a new, more powerful diesel available that is a probable choice. It is the MAN 20V28/33D STC that generates 9,000 kilowatts.

    The crew size for the 056 should be less than expected for a 1,500-ton warship. The Huafeng missile boats being replaced by the 022 Houbei had crews of 26, compared to the 022’s crew of only 12 with similar tonnage. The 054A frigates of 3,400 tons have a crew of only 180 compared to the 1,700-ton Jianghu with a crew of 195. These figures reflect the increased automation on the PLAN’s latest construction. Instead of a crew of 190 on a ship of this size, the 056 may have a crew as small as 110 men, reflecting increased automation of systems resulting in reduced manning. The 054A had reduced weapon and sensor crew maintenance requirements in part because it had a fault isolation software that automatically sent repair part requests to support ships or ashore support. This maintenance feature performed well on Aden Gulf extended deployments. With its sophisticated weapons, the 056 almost certainly has roll stabilizers to aid FCS.

    These vessels probably will operate in the South Sea Fleet, based mainly out of Yulin, Hainan. This is optimum for South China Sea operations that deal with disputed island claims in the Spratly and Paracel islands. China’s paramilitary vessels are able to police only foreign fishing boats or other craft in China’s 200-mile exclusive economic zone claims if unopposed. The Luda destroyers or 054A frigates are needed for other blue-water missions. The 056 class is ideal for Indian Ocean operations in which China confronts the Indian Navy in waters India considers its own. The last years have shown that the sea lines of communication to oil-rich African and Middle Eastern sources are based out of Hainan. The East Sea Fleet will find the 056 a useful addition around Taiwan or in contested Japanese Diaoyu Island confrontation operations as well as in denial of offshore waters to U.S. submarines and oceanographic surveillance vessels. Many of China’s old frigates based in Dinghai on Zhoushan Island also need modern replacements.

    When the first 056 corvettes are commissioned in late 2012, some of the ambiguities will become clarified. These include whether the 056 does have a VDS or towed array under the helicopter deck, the midship AA gun type, the identity of the antennas forward of the FL-1000 SAM, and the exact dimensions and tonnage. The 056 is expected to be a large series production program from several shipyards, as is the Hubei Type 022.

    James C. Bussert is the co-author of the book People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Combat Systems Technology 1949-2010 with Naval War College Professor Bruce Elleman, to be published by the Naval Institute Press in July 2011. The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Defense Department or the U.S. Navy.

  2. #122

    PICTURES: Images emerge of possible Chinese carrier-borne AEW&C testbed

    By: Greg Waldron Singapore

    6 hours ago


    Flying Test bed...........nothing more, nothing less..........

    Images have emerged on various Chinese defence websites of what appears to be a testbed for a possible carrier-borne airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

    The aircraft, apparently designated JZY-01, is based on the Xian Y-7 transport, the Chinese version of the Antonov An-26. A rough translation of the Chinese characters on the fuselage reads "demonstrator aircraft".

    The two most notable features are a large circular radar dome mounted on a single mast aft of the wing root. It is unclear whether this is an operational radome, or a mock-up for testing aerodynamics.

    The aircraft's tail has been highly modified and resembles the four vertical stabilizer arrangement found on the world's only carrier-capable fixed-wing AEW&C aircraft - the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye. Having four vertical stabilizers allows the E-2 to fit inside an aircraft carrier's hangar deck.

    Notably, the JZY-01 appears to lack a tail hook, an essential piece of equipment for a carrier-borne aircraft. In addition, the landing gear would need to be heavily modified for carrier operations, and there is no indication that the wings can fold.

    China is conducting sea trials of a 60,000t aircraft carrier that formerly served Russia as the Varyag. This ship, however, would be unable to support operations by large AEW&C aircraft because it relies on a 'ski-ramp' to launch aircraft. This limits fixed-wing operations to jet powered fighters, such as the Sukhoi Su-33 or China's Shenyang J-15.

    The existence of the JZY-01 could suggest that China eventually intends to develop aircraft carriers equipped with steam or electro-magnetic catapults.

  3. #123

    Launch of New Civilian Ship Helps PLA Enhance Strategic Projection Capability

    (Source: PLA Daily; published Aug. 9, 2012)

    The “Bohai emerald bead” passenger and roll-on/roll-off ship, which is the largest in scale and the longest in travelling distance in China to date, started its maiden voyage on the morning of August 8, 2012 at the Yantai Port of east China’s Shandong Province.

    Different from ordinary ships, the 36,000-ton-water-displacement civilian passenger and roll-on/roll-off ship was in accordance with the national defense requirements in its design and construction so that it can project organic troop units and heavy equipment.

    According to the briefing, the 178-meter-long and 28-meter-wide ship can carry 2,000-plus persons and be loaded with over 300 vehicles of various sizes one time.

    The “Bohai emerald bead” is the first ship of its kind, and the three additional passenger and roll-on/roll-off ships with the same water displacement are now under construction, which all follow the national defense requirements.

    According to Rong Xianwen, director of the Military Transportation Department under the Jinan Military Area Command (MAC) of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the passenger and roll-on/roll-off ship is the most optimal ship type in maritime transportation of military troops as it possesses the advantages including large transportation quantity and high loading efficiency. It is not only the means of transportation, but also a temporary barrack. Such type of ship is often recruited in the military operations in western developed countries.

    This is a new leap forward in enhancing PLA’s strategic projection capability by civilian ships,” said Zhang Wei, director of the Military Transportation Department under the PLA General Logistics Department, “It boasts an important significance in ensuring troop units to fulfill diversified missions.”


  4. #124

    China's 1st aircraft carrier more symbolic than substantive: lawmaker

    2012/08/11 21:49:05

    Taipei, Aug. 11 (CNA) The launch of China's first aircraft carrier will be more important symbolically than substantively, a Taiwanese lawmaker said Saturday.

    The first Chinese aircraft carrier is likely to be incorporated into the People's Liberation Army's naval fleets on China's National Day Oct. 1, the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based English daily, reported recently, citing a Chinese naval research fellow.

    Ruling Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang said even if the report is true, the aircraft carrier's commissioning would be mainly symbolic because there have been no trial aircraft takeoffs or landings on the carrier.

    Moreover, Lin said, an aircraft carrier battle group must be composed of destroyers, submarines and other warships.

    "An aircraft carrier cannot function alone and it takes time for an aircraft carrier battle group to truly acquire combat power or capability," Lin said.

    Furthermore, he said, warships in an aircraft carrier battle group must be able to communicate quickly and effectively.

    "China still has a long way to go in this regard," he said.

    In his view, Lin said, the launch of China's first aircraft carrier would symbolize its entry into a small group of countries with such a warship and enhance its deterrent power in the South China Sea.

    China's first aircraft carrier was transformed from a former Soviet carrier, "Varyag." China reportedly bought the carrier from Ukraine in 1998 for US$20 million.

    (By Emmanuelle

  5. #125

    Chinese carrier seen with J-15 Flanker copy onboard

    By Dave Majumdar

    on August 15, 2012 6:43 PM

    My colleague Greg Waldron from our office in Singapore is reporting that China's "new" carrier--the former Soviet vessel Varyag--has been spotted with a number of aircraft embarked. Among these are a Z-8 airborne early warning helicopter and a Shenyang J-15 copy of the Russian Su-33 carrier-variant of the Flanker.

    The version of the J-15 spotted on the former Varyag is significantly different than the original Su-33 or even previous versions of the J-15 that have been photographed. The cockpit canopy is shortened/cut-off, and--at least to me--the forward fuselage and radome looks shorter and fatter.

    Why the Chinese would alter the design in such a manner is anyone's guess--it's not like they're going to tell us. But it's standard practice to build flight sciences aircraft to evaluate flying characteristics and separate jets to test the avionics. We do it; the Russians do it; and the Chinese mostly likely do so also. It might be a new radar in there. But designs also evolve as flight testing progresses and problems are found...

    The original Sukhoi T-10, which was the prototype for the Su-27, changed considerably after problems were discovered in test. There were also revisions to the Boeing (McDonnell Douglas at the time) F-15A Eagle--the developmental aircraft lacked the notched stabilator and raked wingtips of the production aircraft. More recently, the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor had all sorts of developmental problems which had to be corrected... The same process is happening today with the F-35--which has also had all manner of discoveries in flight testing. No doubt, there will be many more discoveries before it finishes its flight and operational testing. Bottom line, problems are found and an engineering fix is designed and implemented.

    But, for the J-15, it is also possible that this could just be some sort of deck handling mockup which the PLAN is using to gain experience. The reason I say that is because the nose landing-gear door appears to be missing. If I were to place a bet, it would be on a mockup.

    So here is picture that Greg found...

    Compare that with these two older shots of the J-15...

    Compare that with these shots of the original Russian Su-33...

    Whatever the case, the Chinese are clearly making progress with developing their naval aviation capabilities. It's also a safe bet that the J-15, having been reverse-engineered decades after its progenitor, is probably fitted with better avionics than the Su-33s that are in service with the Russian fleet.

    The J-15 seems to have an infrared search and track sensor mounted, but there is no way to tell what kind of radar it has. It could have a passive electronically-scanned array (PESA) radar--which has a single large transmitter and receiver coupled with a single large fixed electronically-scanned antenna. Or it could be a more advanced design, an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar--which consists of hundreds or sometimes thousands of smaller transmit/receive modules making up the aperture.

    We just don't know.

    Here is a white paper compiled by EMS Technologies in Atlanta, Georgia, that explains the differences in the two different approaches to building a phased-array radar-AESA vs. PESA. EMS does come down on the side of passive phased arrays due to cost reasons though.


  6. #126

    China building new Type 052D guided missile destroyer

    By J. Michael Cole / Staff reporter

    The Chinese Navy appears to be developing a brand new type of guided-missile destroyer (DDG) and could be producing several hulls simultaneously, a development that could further tip the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait.

    Images have emerged on Chinese military Web sites in recent weeks that seem to confirm the long-rumored development of the Type 052D destroyer, which some analysts are comparing to Aegis-equipped destroyers in the US Navy. More recently, two hulls were pictured at China State Shipbuilding Corp’s Jiangnan Changxing shipyard near Shanghai earlier this month. The first “dock launch” occurred yesterday.

    According to China military watchers, as many as 10 Type 052D DDGs could be under construction. If true, this would be a departure from past practice for Chinese shipbuilders, which usually develop one or two hulls and launch a series of tests before entering mass production. Analysts have speculated that Chinese engineers may have become confident enough in the subsystems used on the new destroyer to risk accelerated development.

    At 160m long and 18m wide, the Type 052D is slightly larger than its predecessor, the Type 052C, and is believed to weigh just over 6,000 tonnes. Reports indicate the vessel will use a Type 346 Active Phased Array Radar System and a Type 518 L-band long-range radar.

    Meanwhile, the main 100mm gun on the Type 052C, which has reportedly been unreliable, appears to have been replaced by a new PJ-38 130mm gun. The vessel also comes with a helicopter-landing platform and close-in weapon systems.

    According to China Military News, the new destroyer comes with two 32-unit vertical launch systems capable of launching HQ-9B air-defense missiles, anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles. The original YJ-62 missile launchers used on the Type 052C do not appear to be present on the new DDG. It has been speculated that the Type 052D could be equipped with a navalized version of the DH-10 land-attack cruise missile.

    Defense analysts believe the Type 052D could enter service in 2014.

    In related developments, China’s first aircraft carrier, the retrofitted ex-Varyag, left Dalian Port in Liaoning Province yesterday and embarked on its 10th sea trial yesterday. The carrier, which has yet to be christened but is likely to be named after a Chinese province, is expected to enter service later this year.

    More info, via Indian Defence blog.........

    The 052D-class guided missile destroyer is positioned as a “multi-purpose destroyers, drainage will be more than 10,000 tons full load. However, to avoid being involved in the guided missile cruiser “concept within the context of its full-load displacement, it may be limited to less than 9800 tons. The newest destroyer, will be launching within the next year or two. Its main operational tasks will be similar to the U.S. Aegis destroyers, and improve the role of the aircraft carrier battle groups 2-3 defensive circle. Some of the U.S. Navy experts say, the idea of ​​this China’s own design of new warships and performance design is indeed unexpected.

    The large surface warships responsible for aircraft carrier battle groups as a major air and missile defense mission, 052D missile destroyer against enemy missiles is the most important one performance. According to the European “defense experts” magazine, RUB6000 smoke particles jamming system is installed on the new 052D-class guided missile destroyer, the latest data indicate that this is a self-developed products in China, the Chinese navy designed to deal with similar U.S. laser-guided “precision strike” a powerful weapon. ”

    052D missile destroyer, the Chinese navy in the future may still be a lack of early warning aircraft carrier, you may need a better performance of the long-range surveillance radar, so the 052D may be with the European air defense destroyer, the use of remote phased array surveillance radar to replace the existing meter wave range surveillance radar, in order to better support the use of phased array multifunction radar. the In addition, 052C as an air defense ship, its inadequacies Beitan too little, it uses two of the 6 vertical launch systems, each with six firing units, a total of Beitan 48, less than half of them (“Aegis” destroyers of the U.S. Aegis destroyers Beitan to 100). In air defense operations, in order to improve the intercept probability of success, often fired two missiles to intercept a target, which means that the 052C ship can only intercept 24 air targets, while the modern fighter a mounted four air-to-ship missile is not so difficult Therefore, this indicator is difficult to play the performance of the phased array air defense system.

    the foreign scholars predict that the ship will use the 64-cell vertical launch system. Missile vertical launching unit 24, equipped with a Type 052C destroyers on the HQ-9 air defense missile; plus 40 units of the vertical universal launcher, equipped with the 054A frigate on the “Red Flag 16″ anti-aircraft missiles and anti-submarine missile. “red flag -9″ as China’s most advanced third-generation air defense missile system, equipped with active homing warhead, with a maximum range of 200 km, the largest radio 30 km. “Red flag -9″ greatly improve the overall air and missile defense strength of the Chinese army, which not only the ability to remotely against the invasion of high-altitude aircraft, and ground missiles capable of intercepting low altitude cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles.“Red Flag 16″ belong to the medium-range air defense missile system, the PLA Navy equipment, domestic short-range area air defense missile. Mainly to carry out remote “red flag -9″, the SA-N-6 and short-range point air defense of the “Red Flag -7 regional air defense missions, at the same time as the destruction performance of the low-altitude targets less” red flag -9 powerful supplement.such a 052D missile destroyer will have air defense missile system composed of multi-model system, a far, close, high school at low altitude, the complementary advantages network of fire can be quickly formed within ten seconds, greatly enhance the carrier-based air defense the combat effectiveness of the system.

    In addition, from a performance point of view alone, the HQ-9 air defense missile derived from the Russian S-300PMU1 / 2 anti-aircraft missiles, although performance has improved, but compared with the U.S. Aegis combat system should be there are still some gaps, but to neighboring countries currently faced by the Chinese mainland in terms of the 052D-class guided missile destroyers, anti-aircraft fire has more than enough.However, the 052D-class guided missile destroyer installed China’s homegrown the RUB smoke particles interfere with the system, within 5 seconds, the rapid formation of a 30 km wide particle fog blind, blocking communications, including GPS command guidance system can effectively deal similar to the U.S. laser-guided “precision strike missiles, which make up the performance disadvantages of anti-aircraft missiles.

    052D will be “anti-submarine” in an important position up to consider the 052C destroyer hull space is relatively limited, may only be equipped with a hull sonar. especially in dealing with the modern submarine nuclear submarine when the capacity is relatively insufficient, 052D missile destroyer will be the introduction of towed line array sonar in order to improve the ability to detect submarines, and through the data link airborne and shipboard sonar, signal / data processing systems to link up automatic underwater target detection, identification, tracking, positioning and attack. Zhefan comparison, China is to catch up with the United States to lead the destroyer design trends, its design is the most representative of the famous “Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers, with China in all aspects of technology are constantly mature

  7. #127

    China Now Using a Cruise Ship to Haul Troops and Tanks

    By Robert Beckhusen, WIRED.com, August 31, 2012 | 12:00 pm

    PLA soldiers in formation outside the Green Pearl, China’s newest military cruise ship, during the ship’s August commissioning ceremony. Photo: People’s Liberation Army

    The media freaked out about China’s crappy aircraft carrier and hyperventilated over the J-20 stealth fighter. But China’s newest addition to its military is more subtle, and stylish. It’s a 36,000-ton pleasure boat capable of disgorging thousands of troops and hundreds of vehicles held inside its belly.

    That would be the Bahai Sea Green Pearl, a 36,000-ton ferry and cruise ship commissioned in August at Yantai Port in China’s northeastern Shandong Province. At heart a vessel for pleasure and civilian transport, the ship is intended to normally ferry cars and passengers across the Yellow Sea. But when needed by the People’s Liberation Army, the Green Pearl can double as a troop carrier. During its launching ceremony and demonstration on Aug. 8, PLA troops could be seen loading dozens of tanks, artillery pieces and armored vehicles on board.

    Photos from Chinese state television posted to the China Defense Blog show some of the action, including what looks like fully loaded soldiers running through a corridor. Tanks and artillery pieces are also seen inside one of the ship’s three vehicle compartments. How they got there: via the ship’s roll-on/roll-off (or ro-ro) ramp on its stern.

    China also has three more of the vessels under construction, which Zhang Wei, chief of the PLA’s Military Transportation Department under the PLA General Logistics Department, said is a “new leap in our military use of civilian vessels to improve the strategic projection.” The Green Pearl reportedly has room for more than 2,000 people and 300 cars. It’s even got a helicopter pad.

    It’s also got luxury. When the ship isn’t ferrying civilians, China’s troops could take in the pleasure of tall windows for observing “the beautiful scenery of the sea,” reported the Yantai Daily Media Group. Not only that, but rooms — which range from first to third class — are equipped with televisions, cellphone signal amplifiers and wireless internet access. And if the troops get bored in their rooms, there’s always mingling in one of two staterooms and a cafe. There are even rooms set aside for reading and chess. And no cruise ship would be complete without some collective entertainment at a multi-purpose auditorium. If troops are feeling cooped up, they can always go above deck for excursions in the sun.

    Armored vehicles from China’s People’s Liberation Army prepare to board the Green Pearl in August 2012. Photo: CCTV via China Defense Blog

    However, the Green Pearl is by no means a true amphibious assault ship. There’s no indication of any landing craft, or any ability to launch them. The ship needs a proper dock to gets its heavier equipment onto land. That mostly rules out launching an invasion of troops while sitting (relatively) safely off-shore. Instead, the ship is more accurately called something like an “amphibious augmentation” platform. It can base a helicopter, and it can follow up an amphibious assault with more troops — after a landing site is secure.

    It’s also not a new concept. Using civilian ships for double duty is “entirely in keeping with Chinese practices reaching back for centuries,” Jim Holmes, an associate professor of strategy at the Navy War College, tells Danger Room. For Western navies, that practice dated up until the 18th century. And today, the U.S. uses mixed military and commercial ships to refuel at sea, Holmes says.

    China has also been building up its fleet of amphibious assault ships, which could be at the front line of an invasion of Taiwan, say. That is, if China could conceivably launch one. But probably not. Since 2008, China has launched four Yuzhao-class, or Type 081 amphibious assault ships. The lead ship was deployed to fight pirates near Somalia. China is also reportedly working on a newer, bigger amphibious ship called the Type 081 (.pdf).


    What’s more likely is using the Green Pearl for “soft power” operations distant from China’s shores. “Beijing seems rather comfortable with the situation in the Taiwan Strait and is clearly looking beyond Taiwan, as it has been for some time now,” Holmes says. “Such a vessel could be a workhorse for any mission involving amphibious operations, meaning humanitarian relief.”

    That could mean delivering aid, transporting doctors and engineers to a country beset by an emergency. And there’s always port calls. That is, making stops in countries friendly to China while carrying a contingent of visiting officers and diplomats on board.

    And not that China’s new cruise ships of war have any chance of matching the United States’ own massive fleet of commercial transport ships available for military duties. The U.S. has 60 privately owned commercial ships available to be called upon by the Navy under the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Security Program. Most of those are heavy-duty container vessels, but 17 of them are ro-ro ships.

    According to the DoT’s Maritime Administration (.pdf), the Navy has relied on them to lift troops during the Persian Gulf War, and into Bosnia, Somalia and Kosovo, and has had to rely on those commercial ships even more in recent years to fight the war in Iraq. The United Kingdom famously hauled troops during the Falklands War with the Queen Elizabeth 2.

    In the meantime, let the PLA take in the scenic views and relax to the soothing hum of the Green Pearl‘s engines. Unlike the U.S. and British cruise and ro-ro ships of war, there’s not a huge chance of China’s new pleasureboat invading anyone any time soon.
    Last edited by buglerbilly; 01-09-12 at 02:05 AM.

  8. #128

    Aircraft Carrier to Be Named 'Liaoning'

    (Source: Shanghai Daily; published Sept. 11, 2012)

    China's first aircraft carrier will be named "Liaoning" after the northeast province where it was refitted, an expert and military insider said yesterday.

    And the carrier's hull number, "16," has been painted on the bow, suggesting it would soon be put into service, Li Jie, a researcher with the China Navy Military Academy added.

    The carrier, formerly the Ukrainian vessel Varyag, is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year as all the necessary facilities have been installed and the carrier has passed all its 10 sea trials since last August, Li said.

    Zheng Ming, a former department director in the Chinese navy, said: "I once suggested the ship be named after China's Yellow Sea, but was told the authority has decided to name it after a province."

    Previously, there was speculation the carrier might be named after Mao Zedong, founder of the New China, or after the capital Beijing. Li said that was unlikely.

    It was also suggested the carrier might be named after Shi Lang, a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) admiral who led a fleet to Taiwan Island in 1681.

    Under Chinese navy regulations, large ships are usually given provincial-level names, while destroyers and frigates must be named after large or medium-sized cities. Smaller vessels can be named after mountains or famous people.

    The name will be officially announced on the first day of its commissioning, the navy authority has said.

    Meanwhile, the hull number "16" that has just been painted on the carrier led to speculation that it was to commemorate Liu Huaqing, the country's former Naval Commander Admiral, because his home province of Hubei is China's 16th province in terms of its geological position.

    Liu, who died last year, was known as the "Father of China's Aircraft Carrier" because of his support for the program.

    The carrier left the port of Dalian on August 10 last year for its first sea trial and has been regularly tested in both the Yellow and Bohai seas since then.

    Though capable of launching attacks on missiles, aircraft and approaching vessels, the defense ministry says the carrier will mainly be used for research, experiments and training.


  9. #129

    The Carrier Dilemma: How Many is Enough?

    (Source: The Diplomat; published Sept. 12, 2012)

    Reports on Monday indicated that the PLAN has finally settled on a name for its aircraft carrier, heretofore known as the ex-Varyag. While speculation included names such as “Beijing,” “Mao Zedong,” and “Shi Lang,” the PLAN instead decided to adopt a relatively conventional naming strategy, dubbing the refurbished Soviet-era carrier “Liaoning” in honor of the province that has hosted the warship’s refit.

    Most analysts agree that China will pursue the construction of additional aircraft carriers, but at this point the opacity of Chinese defense planning has not revealed how many ships the PLAN intends to operate. In a recent article for Globe Magazine, a Chinese security scholar and major general argued that China needs up to five carriers to manage its maritime security.

    The PLAN’s carrier battle groups will embark into an increasingly crowded sea. India will shortly take possession of its own refurbished Soviet carrier, and plans to operate three by early in the next decade. The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force operates a pair of “helicopter carrying destroyers” that resemble small carriers. And of course the United States Navy operates eleven fleet carriers, along with another nine light carriers (amphibious assault ships).

    The proliferation of flat deck aircraft carrying warships in East Asia creates problems for the sort of static analysis of maritime requirements that General Wang Haiyun’s contribution represents. Generating expectations for warfighting needs in absence of good estimates of potential enemy capabilities is extremely difficult. While static analysis of maritime interests (the North Sea Fleet and the South Sea Fleet each require an operational carrier, for example) has its value, it is very likely that China, India, Japan and the United States will all begin to think dynamically and strategically about their force needs. Another way of phrasing this is that any credible understanding of China’s maritime needs requires an estimation of Indian, Japanese, and American naval capabilities, and of how those states will respond to Chinese expansion.

    A similarly static debate has emerged in the United States over the current size of the USN. Comparisons of the fighting power of the 1917 edition of the U.S. Navy with the 2012 edition are not (when adjusted for capability “inflation”) without interest or utility, but require context. For example, in 1917 the United States Navy possessed fourteen modern dreadnought battleships, trailing not only the Royal Navy (forty-one battleships and battlecruisers) but also the Kaiserliche Marine (twenty-five battleships and battlecruisers). That the USN of 1917 was substantially inferior to two global competitors while the USN of 2012 is wildly superior to any competitor is considerably more important than the accidental similarity in raw numbers.

    But obviously, dynamic, comparative analysis holds its own dangers. As Chinese and India carriers enter service, competitive dynamics may take over, leading to a further desire to expand naval capabilities. The obvious analogue is the dreadnought race undertaken by Britain, Germany, and several other countries prior to and during World War I. Given that questions of national prestige can easily wrap themselves around naval procurement, the potential for maritime arms competition is high.

    In the wake of the First World War, the great maritime powers assigned tight quotas on the number, size, and hitting power of vessels they could construct. While the Washington Naval Treaty system may have failed to prevent war, it did represent accurately recognize the fundamentally relative nature of military power.

    Five aircraft carriers mean little in context of the capabilities of China’s regional and global competitors. At the moment, zero aircraft carriers are needed to defend China’s maritime interests. Should China’s understanding of its competitors and its threat environment expand (potentially in response to China’s own construction), a dozen carriers may not suffice.


  10. #130

    China Navy Takes Delivery of 1st Aircraft Carrier: Report

    Sep. 23, 2012 - 12:28PM | By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

    China's first aircraft carrier berthed at Dalian port is seen Sept. 5. (AFP)

    BEIJING — China’s first aircraft carrier was handed over to the navy of the People’s Liberation Army on Sept. 23, state press said, amid rising tensions over disputed waters in the East and South China Seas.

    The handover ceremony of the 300-meter (990-foot) ship, a former Soviet carrier called the Varyag, took place in northeast China’s port of Dalian after a lengthy refitting by a Chinese shipbuilder, the Global Times reported.

    During the handover ceremony the aircraft carrier raised the Chinese national flag on its mast, the PLA flag on its bow and the navy’s colors on its stern, the short online report said. A ceremony to place the ship into active service would be held sometime in the future, the paper said without elaboration.

    China’s defense ministry was unavailable to comment on the ceremony.

    The announcement comes at a time of heightened tensions over maritime disputes in the Asia-Pacific region, where China’s growing assertiveness has put it on a collision course with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

    On Sept. 23, China also postponed a ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties with Japan, due to a noisy territorial dispute with Tokyo over the Diaoyu Islands, known in Japanese as Senkaku. Tensions have also risen this year with Vietnam and the Philippines over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

    Beijing confirmed last year it was revamping the old Soviet ship, and has repeatedly insisted the carrier poses no threat to its neighbors and will be used mainly for training and research purposes.

    But numerous sea trials of the aircraft carrier — currently only known as “Number 16” — since August 2011 were met with concern from regional powers including Japan and the United States, which called on Beijing to explain why it needed an aircraft carrier.

    Construction of the Varyag originally ended with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. China reportedly bought the carrier’s immense armored hull — with no engine, electrics or propeller — from Ukraine in 1998 and began to refit the vessel in Dalian in 2002.

    The PLA — the world’s largest active military — is extremely secretive about its defense programs, which benefit from a huge and expanding military budget boosted by the nation’s runaway economic growth. China’s military budget officially reached $106 billion in 2012, an 11.2 percent increase.

    According to a report issued by the Pentagon in May, Beijing is pouring money into advanced air defenses, submarines, anti-satellite weapons and anti-ship missiles that could all be used to deny an adversary access to strategic areas, such as the South China Sea. China’s real defense spending amounts to between $120 billion to $180 billion, the report said.

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