China’s military is expanding its capabilities for an amphibious assault on the self-ruled island of Taiwan. This, according to the newly released “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” which is issued by the Pentagon each year as mandated by the US Congress.
China now has two amphibious mechanized infantry divisions, one amphibious armor brigade, 11 army aviation brigades and regiments, three Airborne divisions, and two Marine brigades. For the navy, new ships include 30 tank landing ships/amphibious transport docks, 22 medium landing ships, and China has signed significant purchase contracts with Ukraine for assault hovercraft.
China’s investments in its amphibious ship force signal China’s intent to develop an expeditionary and over-the-horizon amphibious assault capability, said the report. “Since 2005, China has built three large Yuzhao-class (Type 071) amphibious transport docks with a fourth soon to enter service, providing considerably greater and more flexible capability for ‘far seas’ operations than the older landing ships.” The Yuzhao can carry up to four of the new Yuyi-class, air-cushion medium landing craft and four or more helicopters, as well as armored vehicles and marines for long-distance deployments.
Additional Yuzhao construction is expected to continue, as is a follow-on amphibious assault ship that is not only larger, but also incorporates a full flight deck for helicopters. Two Yuting II-class tank landing ships (LST) are currently being built to replace older LST units that are reaching the end of their service lives.
The Pentagon report states that Chinese writings indicate there are different operational concepts for an amphibious invasion of Taiwan, but the most prominent of these is the Joint Island Landing Campaign, which envisions a complex operation relying on coordinated, interlocking campaigns for logistics, air, naval support and electronic warfare. “The objective would be to break through or circumvent shore defenses, establish and build a beachhead, transport personnel and materiel to designated landing sites in the north or south of Taiwan’s western coastline, and launch attacks to seize and to occupy key targets or the entire island.”More in Defense News.
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