PLA Navy’s best ship?
China’s Type 71 Yuzhao-class can be a great asset in a wide range of missions.
Is This the Most Underestimated Ship in China’s Navy?
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)’s Type-71Yuzhao-class is an underestimated piece of kit. In service since 2007, the PLAN commissioned its fourth Yuzhao, the Yimengshan, earlier this year. The ship is supposed to complete sea trials by this December. Although the displacement of these ships vary slightly, they are each capable of transporting a fully complemented battalion of PLAN marines, 15-20 armored vehicles, and four Z-8 or Z-18 helicopters (the former being a copy of the French Aerospatiale SA 321 Super Frelon.) EachYuzhao can hold up to four Yuyi landing craft (hovercraft), which in turn can carry a platoon of marines or armored vehicles. Each hovercraft can carry up to 60 tons, which would allow it to embark a Type 96 main battle tank.
Comparable to the USS San Antonio-class, the Yuzhao displaces around 20,400 short tons and, according to China State Shipbuilding Corporation, has a maximum range of 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km). This basically gives the ships the necessary range to operate anywhere in the Eastern Pacific or Indian Ocean. They are not heavily armed, however, which explains why they are not as frequently exposed in the foreign media as China’s other “sexier” recent naval additions. Each ship carries only a single 76 mm AK-176 gun. However, they are reasonably well protected by four AK-630 Close-in Weapons Systems (CIWS), as well as chaff and decoy launchers. By comparison, another modern vessel in service with the PLAN, the Type 54A Jiangkai II-class frigate, carries only 2 CIWS.
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