China is building its first amphibious assault ship capable of carrying multiple hovercraft and many helicopters, according to a think tank that monitors Asian defense issues.
The full displacement of the assault ship, which may be put into commission as early as 2015 to strengthen China’s naval landing operations, is 35,000 tons, according to the Kanwa Information Center, a Canada-based private think tank.
Earlier this month, the IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly reported that China has apparently started building its first indigenous aircraft carrier in Shanghai, citing satellite photos. But Kanwa said it believes that the weekly is likely to have mistaken the assault ship for an aircraft carrier.
China already has three 20,000-ton class amphibious warfare ships, known as Type 071, and is currently building another one, but it has not yet had such a large-scale ship designed to carry many helicopters and landing vessels.
The think tank believes that the construction of the new aircraft carrierlike ship is connected to China’s territorial claims over disputed islands such as the Japan-administrated Senkaku Islets in the East China Sea.