A new Chinese amphibious assault ship carrying attack helicopters can reportedly serve the same purpose as any western aircraft carrier equipped with F-35 fighters.
This debatable statement was made by Liu Xuanzun writing for the Chinese state media Global Times, referring to the PLA Navy’s new landing helicopter dock Type 075 assault ship, capable of carrying around 30 aircraft including attack and transport helicopters and rotor-wing UAVs.
The first vessel of this type was commissioned in the PLA Navy about a week ago named Hainan, which showed Z-8 helicopters on the deck.
According to Chinese experts cited in the report, the complement of rotorcraft carried by the Type 075- the Z-8, the Z-20, attack helicopter like Z-10 and Z-19, and rotorcraft UAVs can create a combat potential analogous to the American F-35B fighter-jet equipped aircraft carriers.
While this claim is highly surprising for many military experts, the idea of helicopters providing a combat air potential for an amphibious assault unit equivalent to fixed-wing fighter jets is itself contradictory.
The fixed-wing combat aircraft can deliver more variety and quantity of payloads with precision at enemy encampments and assets, while the idea of a helicopter dropping a heavy bomb and escaping quickly from the anti-aircraft fire and missiles seems too good to be true.
However, the Chinese experts give a strong assertion to their claim. These amphibious assault ships can reportedly conduct their missions only around the Chinese coastlines (in the near future) rather than the global approach of the American Navy.
This makes these ships more versatile as they would operate in the vicinity of Chinese aircraft carriers, from which fixed-wing fighter jets would launch to provide air cover and precision bombing.
Comparing with the American AAV-7, the executive chief editor of the Chinese magazine, Shipborne Weapons, Shi Hong, said that the Type 075 is more advanced than the American ship, as the Chinese vehicle is three times faster in water than its US counterpart, giving it an edge in landing missions and a better ability to survive under enemy fire, reported Global Times.
The Type 075 has a full-length flight deck for helicopter operations and features a floodable well deck from which to disembark hovercraft and armored amphibious assault vehicles.
The Type 075’s size and tonnage are estimated to be greater than most contemporaries, with exceptions including the US Navy’s Wasp-class and America-class ones.