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Satellite imagery reveals that the Chinese Navy was conducting war games resembling a mock invasion of Taiwan, the Print reported on May 28th.
The imagery shows that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) uses large landing ships, Type-72 variants Yukan and Yuting, to carry its amphibious troops and equipment to the landing zone.
A Type 072A landing ship is designed to carry 250 fully armed troops, ten tanks, four landing craft, a medium helicopter. In this situation it was used to transport armored vehicles to the beach landing zone. Ahead of the invasion simulation, reconnaissance aircraft surveilled above.
The latest imagery also suggests usage of landing platform dock (LPD) Type-71 Yuzhao class amphibious landing dock.
There are reportedly two deployment patterns after a review from satellite imagery over the last 20 years.
“The first is that landing ships are deployed with bow and sides away from the shore, to ensure faster debarkation and safety of the ship from the adversary’s shore-based weapons fire.
The second is circular deployment, with the LPD on one of the flanks with respect to the shore.”
The current drill’s deployment presents the latter one.
“This formation provides safety from shore fire as well as aerial attacks, since most landing ships carry only short-range air defense and close-in weapon systems (CIWS).”
The landing ships are preceded by reconnaissance, aviation and fire from moving boats.
The aerial reconnaissance is carried out by four Z-8 Super Frelon helicopters on board the Type-71 LPD, and the first touch-downs by the Type-726 Yuyi class LCAC (landing craft air cushion).
The amphibious exercise appears to be aimed at guaranteeing the landing force moves from ship to shore in the safest possible manner. It is also focused at bringing the mechanized formations to the beach at the best possible condition and ready to act.
The Chinese Navy’s recent modernization further suggests that the Zubr class LCACs would be used in future naval amphibious drills.
The initial wave deploys Type-08 amphibious armored vehicles and/or ZBD-05 amphibious fighting vehicles. Sometimes there are Type-99 main battle tanks are also present to provide support.
The Chinese navy also practices re-embarkation after the landing exercise and regrouping for developing the best amphibious tactics.
According to the Print, catching re-embarkation is rare on satellite imagery, and in this case shows five amphibious fighting vehicles lined up in queue to be loaded on the Type-72 Yukan and Yuting warships.
The fleet landing exercises focus on coordination between boat group and landing group and the proper break out from the beach head.
Taiwan has little chance of countering any large-scale actions by China, since its naval capabilities are woefully behind those of the PLAN. China continues to criticize any actions by Taiwan aimed at modernizing its capabilities, especially by purchases from the US.
The “One-China policy” is in effect and it claims that Taiwan would sooner or later become a part of Mainland China by one way or another.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Pentagon Releases Annual Report on Chinese Military and Security Developments
- Taiwan Would Run Into “Dead End” If It Attempts To Deny Reunification With Beijing Using Force: Chinese Military