While there has been ample focus on China’s few but ever-larger fixed-wing aircraft carriers, comparatively little attention has been paid to a host of helicopter carriers and amphibious assault ships that pose a far greater danger to Taiwan and the South China Sea.
The Type 075 landing helicopter dock (LHD) is almost as large as the aircraft carrier Liaoning and its larger sister ship, Type 001A, but the new vessel’s construction has been paid comparatively little attention. While the assault ship can’t launch fixed-wing aircraft, it can carry dozens of helicopters as well as large detachments of marines and their landing craft, posing a potent threat to any maritime area.
In American naval nomenclature, LHD is interchangeable with amphibious assault ship (AAS). The US Marine Corps operates nine such vessels: eight 40,000-ton Wasp-class ships and one newer, 45,000-ton America-class vessel.
The Type 075 ships are predicted to be roughly the same size as the Wasp-class ships, making them by far the largest such vessels operated by a non-American naval force. The Diplomat notes that the initial Type 075 LHDs are expected to weigh in at 31,000 tons’ displacement and carry 28 helicopters, but that a larger Type 075A is believed to be in the works, to the tune of 40,000 tons’ displacement and an air wing of 40 helicopters.
That’s roughly the size of World War II-era fleet carriers used by the US and Japan.
Sina Military noted the flight deck to be roughly 250…