A 22,000-tonne landing helicopter dock (LHD) under development in China has sparked alarm in defense circles in Taiwan, with some analysts saying the ship could cause a “strategic shift” in the Taiwan Strait.
The design, first unveiled by state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Co (CSIC, 中國船舶重工集團公司) — the country’s largest shipbuilding conglomerate — at the Defense and Security 2012 exhibition in Bangkok in early March, is believed to be the Type 081 LHD that defense enthusiasts have been expecting for years.
According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, CSIC confirmed the existence of a Type 081 program in 2007, but at the time it refused to disclose further details. The design phase of the vessel was reportedly completed in 2006, with engineering design beginning soon afterwards.
The 211m long LHD will be capable of carrying an impressive eight helicopters on deck, with hangar space for four more, or for hovercraft. It will also have capacity to accommodate 1,068 marines and will be equipped with phased-array radar, four short-range air-defense launchers and anti-submarine warfare capability.
Its operational range is expected to be 7,000 nautical miles (13,000km), with an endurance of up to 30 days at sea.
The Type 081 was reportedly inspired by the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship operated by the French Navy. Some analysts have also pointed to similarities with the 18,000-tonne Hyuga-class helicopter carrier used by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force since 2009.
Defense analysts say CSIC is fully capable of building the LHD, especially following the experience gained by Chinese shipbuilders with three 20,000-tonne Type 071 Yuzhao-class amphibious transport docks, the last of which was launched in September, with a fourth rumored to be on the way. Despite having a similar displacement to the Type 081, the Type 071 can only accommodate two Z-8 heavy transport helicopters.
Assuming that the timeframe for construction of the Type 081 is similar to that for the Type 071, the first Type 081 could be launched as early as 2014. China’s first Type 071 was launched in December 2006, two years after the model was first unveiled.
Some reports indicate that the People’s Liberation Army Navy might be seeking to acquire as many as three Type 081s for its operations.
The Chinese government has yet to confirm whether CSIC has begun construction of the Type 081.
Given its ability to carry various types of helicopters — Z-8 and Z-9 transport and Z-10 attack helicopters, among others — a large number of marines and landing craft, analysts are saying that the Type 081 would greatly enhance the Chinese navy’s ability to launch humanitarian operations as well as project force beyond its shores, a reflection of the strategic choices made by the Chinese navy in recent years.
It would also play a key, possibly game-changing role in any amphibious assault on Taiwan or against other adversaries in the South China Sea.
‘FREEDOM WINE’: Taiwanese are empathetic of Australians, the president said, while lawmakers called on their constituents to drink Australian wine to show their support Taiwan would take action to back Australians at a time when they are “under tremendous pressure,” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, as tensions between Australia and China heated up. Taipei and Canberra have been mutually supportive in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in exchanging critical medical materials in the early stages, Tsai said, before chairing the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Central Standing Committee meeting in Taipei. Taiwan and Australia are like-minded nations, sharing the common values of democracy, freedom and human rights, while their economic and trade relations have also become close, she said. Canberra has been voicing support for Taiwan’s international
VIGILANCE: From tomorrow all arrivals must provide the result of a PCR test issued within three days of boarding, and the CECC asked people to report anyone who has faked their result The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) expects an increase in the number of returning travelers in the coming days, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, adding that the varying qualities of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test reports from other countries is a big concern. Chen, who heads the center, was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a Taiwan Foundation for Rare Disorders scholarship award ceremony in Taipei. “As the global COVID-19 situation is worsening, and with some holidays coming up, there might be an increase in the number of overseas Taiwanese returning to Taiwan,” he
CECC RULES: The autumn-winter COVID-19 prevention program, including mandatory mask wearing in eight types of public venues and indoor facilities, begins today A temporary, two-week ban on Indonesian migrant workers entering the nation is to begin on Friday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday as it reported 24 new imported cases of COVID-19. Twenty of the new cases are Indonesian migrant workers who arrived between Nov. 11 and Friday last week, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. The cases were discovered during a special project on Friday to conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on all 939 recently arrived Indonesian migrant workers in centralized quarantine facilities, as the majority of imported cases in the past
Passports with a redesigned cover highlighting Taiwan would be issued starting on Jan. 11, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The new cover design, which was announced on Sept. 2, highlights Taiwan by printing the word in a larger font. While the new passport cover retains “the Republic of China” in Chinese, the English name is printed along the outer circle of the national emblem, which would enable other nations to clearly identify that it is a Taiwanese passport, not a Chinese passport, the ministry said. The costs and application procedures for the new version are the same as