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Chinese military has built second assault ship, report says

China's 001A carrier photographed in Dalian Port. (GG001213/Wikimedia Commons)
March 14, 2020

The Chinese military is reportedly on the brink of completing its development of a second Type 075 since completing its first in September.

The launch of a second Type 075 could play a role in China annexing Taiwan, Asia Times reported. It’s hull and flight deck are already complete, bringing the completion of the Type 075 much closer than anticipated. A recent report says it has already built in Hudong Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai and will soon be launched.

China has acquired and learned new shipbuilding technologies believed to play a crucial role in the nation’s smooth progress towards developing the amphibious assault ship so quickly, according to a Monday report from Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Xi’an-based periodical on the national defense industry, the Global Times reported.

The first Type 075 was launched in September and was completed much faster than the Chinese military has historically been known to be capable of. China is currently using the Type 071, which lacks the ability to transport large forces and lack vertical delivery capabilities. So, the Type 075, according to the report, could be one of the most important developments in recent Chinese military history.

China also recently launched its first homebuilt aircraft carrier. China’s only other aircraft carrier it uses is a refurbished Soviet Union-era carrier. China used decommissioned aircraft carriers from the Soviet Union and Australia to design its first aircraft carrier, called the Type oo1 or the Shandong.

The Shandong will play a crucial role in taking permanent control of the South China Sea, according to experts.

China had previous plans to build four more aircraft carriers, but due to technical setbacks in the development of the Type 001A, plans to build the fifth and sixth, which were planned to be nuclear powered, have been canceled.

“The third and fourth Chinese aircraft carriers on the agenda are both Type 002s, the country’s next generation warship equipped with electromagnetic catapults [for launching jets],” a Chinese military source reportedly told the South China Morning Post.

Another source told the SCMP that China lacks the technology to build nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, although it has “many” nuclear-powered submarines. The technical challenges of building the Shandong raised costs and ended plans of developing the two nuclear aircraft carriers.

“[The engineers] have found some technical problems, and one of the key obstacles is in the development of a new generation of carrier-based fighter jets,” the source reportedly added. “These problems are not expected to be resolved in the near term.”

China is continuing the expansion of its military and specifically of its Navy. Its naval forces have expanded 55% from 2005 to 2019, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report titled, “China’s Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities — Background and Issues for Congress.”

“There is no doubt that they’ve been investing hugely in this,” said a senior fellow for naval forces and maritime security at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, Nick Childs. “In recent years, they’ve been outbuilding everybody.”