Monday, February 06, 2017

China is mass producing Type 726 LCACs.

Many thanks to Alexander Clarke @AC_NavalHistory!

via China
China has begun the mass production of a domestically-developed amphibious landing craft which will enhance the country's amphibious capabilities and enable it to transport heavy military vehicles in the event of war with Taiwan, Chinese media reported recently.
Chinese news website reported earlier this week that a new boat of Type 726 Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) appeared on a military program broadcast on China's CCTV on Jan. 31, which indicated China has begun the mass production of this type of craft.
LCACs are used to transport troops and equipment from ships to land-based operations.
The report said that the new Type 726 LCAC is part of the Chinese navy's South China Sea fleet.
The Type 726 LCAC can carry China's Type 99 tank and move at a speed of more than 60 knots, the report said.
Built at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, the first Type 726 LCAC was launched in December 2009, since which time the Chinese navy has had four boats of this type, the report said.

The mass production of the Type 726 LCAC will significantly enhance China's amphibious combat capability, the report said. It not only bolsters Beijing's ability to transport troops to distant locations, but also beefs up the country's ability to transport heavy military tanks in the event of war with Taiwan, the report added.
The Chinese are viewing amphibious warfare in a different way than Marine planners.  From my chair I see USMC planners viewing our Ground Combat Element as an "enabler" for either SOCOM or an air/sea battle.  The Chinese view their GCE as a war winning element that is to be supported.

That makes a huge difference when it comes to procurement.

For the USMC that means small units that fly far and attack weakly defended installations (hopefully) or that act as support for Special Operations.  For the Chinese that means doing stuff old skool Marine Corps style and building up power ashore as rapidly as possible and then moving from the beach head to the objective in powerful combined arms teams.

Even if my "guess" is wrong, one thing is certain.  The Chinese are about to mass produce LCACs while we're losing well deck space on both our big deck amphibs (LHD/LHA) and our LSDs.  It will be interesting to see who's theory of future war is correct. 

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