China plans to develop a new amphibious assault ship dubbed type 076 LHD

Chinese shipbuilder is planning to build a more powerful amphibious assault ship that would be able to carry more helicopters and drones and help the country’s marine corps to fight more effectively on the high seas.

The ship would have a similar design to the Type 075 landing helicopter deck, but it would be equipped with an electromagnetic catapult launch system of the type that is currently only found on the most advanced aircraft carriers.

News about the proposal of the new design, which shipbuilders and military enthusiasts have called the Type 076, has been circulating on military websites since the start of the month.

Military observers said the plans, from the China Shipbuilding Group, the main government contractor, have not yet been approved by the leadership and work on the new ships will take at least five years.

One naval commentator, Li Jie, said the ship would not be designed with a possible attack on Taiwan in mind, instead its “combat role would focus on the high seas when China is facing territorial challenges from rival claimants in the region”.

China is involved in a series of territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas and the US has stepped up its presence in the area in recent years.

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The new ship would be a similar size to the Type 075, but it is expected to include the most advanced type of electromagnetic launch system – technology that will be used on China’s next generation Type 002 carrier, which is still under construction.

The new design will allow it to carry more helicopters, rotor-wing drones and hovercraft, according to military analysts.

A report in the Chinese military magazine Ordnance Industry Science Technology last Thursday said this would allow the marine corps to expand its combat range and air defences over a wider area.

The warship would have an estimated displacement of about 40,000 tonnes and will be China’s largest – and the world’s third largest – amphibious assault ship, behind the US Wasp-class and America class.

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