A recent photo on social media showing China’s Type 075 Helicopter Landing Dock (LHD) having a long, curved ski jump has observers scratching their heads. The photo shows the LHD at a harbor wharf/jetty with a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) officer standing on it and appearing to speak in front of a television news crew.
It’s incredible ! How did the Type 075 LHD Hainan become a ski jump carrier? 😎 pic.twitter.com/eFy9ftBKYC
— 彩云香江 (@louischeung_hk) July 13, 2022
A second photo in the same tweet shows a hand-drawn illustration of how a ski jump would fit.
The curved ski jump section is shown simply attached to the front edge of the cockpit with large screws. While not impossible, the biggest marker that the image could be faked is the lack of screw holes under the flight deck to accommodate the screws.
And in what’s the biggest dead giveaway, there are two big screws under the ski jump that look too crude and too amateurish to have attached to them – clearly photoshopped!
False, true or Chinese disinformation?
From a purely military and strategic point of view, the imagined scenario requiring such a capability on the LHD – intended exclusively for amphibious operations and humanitarian disaster assistance (HADR) – means that China would lose its four carriers. aircraft and would need a platform for fighters like the J-15 and the underdeveloped J-35 to get off the ground.
This is a remote possibility given that it can only happen in a full-fledged clash between the United States and China in the Western Pacific and the war drags on at such a level. that China is losing a large part of its navy.
The Russian-Ukrainian war certainly shattered two important conventional pearls of wisdom. First, large-scale wars are not impossible, given the fear of an escalation that could devastate all participants. Second, even if they did break out, it would be short and brutal, with all parties involved tacitly disengaging and reaching a compromise to prevent another conflagration.
However, this applies when the war is between two great powers, such as the United States and Russia, the United States and China or Russia, and a military bloc such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO ).
All participants have large armies with equally massive air forces and nuclear weapons. Ukraine has neither, with the West simply backing it up with military aid. Moreover, the political-strategic-social dynamic between Russia and Ukraine is different.
There is a kinship of shared languages, culture, history and tradition, with enormous sympathy and a desire to have normal links between the citizens of the countries.
Finally, if the goal is to have a backup for lost aircraft carriers, it would mean that the United States has successfully broken through China’s formidable first line of defense – its anti-access/denial missiles. zone, intended to prevent the American navy flotilla at bay, without ever allowing to approach the Chinese coasts.
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US Navy admirals have admitted their handicap to the radically unorthodox DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM).
If the US Navy had even sunk the Chinese aircraft carriers, it would not stop there, but would go to China’s ports and shipbuilding facilities. The PLAN would have no port to dock and upgrade the ship with ski jumping, a tedious process possibly requiring days that cannot be done inland.
The best explanation for the creation of such an image could therefore be a classic Chinese disinformation tactic, often intended to confuse observers and opponents. China’s cyber warriors and civilian strategic planners are well integrated into the country’s politico-military apparatus and often undertake such activities at the behest of the state.
The ship and its history
According to Naval News, the first Type 075 for the PLAN was launched in September 2019 and began sea trials in August 2020, while the second was launched in April 2020 and began sea trials in December 2020. This represents an impressive rate of one LHD launched every six months.
A total of eight LHDs would be on order for the PLAN. Currently, the same yard is also building the Type 054 A/P frigates for the Pakistani Navy and, it seems, a Type 071E LPD for Thailand.
While the Type 075 looks slightly smaller than the US Navy LHA, it is larger than its French or Spanish/Australian LHD equivalents. It is quite close in size to the future Italian Trieste LHD.
The largest LHDs in the world remain the Japanese Izumo-class ships, sometimes considered mini-aircraft carriers. Military analysts expect the Type 075 to play a vital role in possible operations on the island of Taiwan and islands and reefs in the South China Sea; the LHD will have other missions.