On April 23, 2021, the CNS Hainan – China’s helicopter landing dock was officially commissioned.
Hainan is the first of a total of three Type 075-class landing helicopter docks. She was built by Hundong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Company Ltd and launched on September 25, 2019. China’s new Hainan, in form and function, is similar to the Wasp of the United States. The ship has a displacement of about 40,000 tons, a length of 237m, a beam of 36m. It is an impressive warship, outperforming its rivals in Asia.
In modern naval warfare, large and long deck amphibious assault ships are used for helicopter deployments, fighter jets with the ability to short take-off and vertical-landing are extremely important. Besides being able to quickly transport a fast-responding task force to hot spots that old forms could hardly meet. Another advantage of these landing helicopter docks is that it also plays the role of light aircraft carrier when necessary. Recognizing the advantages of such design type, in 2017, China decided to embark on building a ship to equip its navy, forming the Type 075 class.
The overall design of Hainan is quite harmonious, with an island on the starboard side, the front of the flight deck is ostentatiously blocky and square. The island superstructure area is home to sensors, processing systems, and common communications. It is unclear what radar systems and sensors will be installed on this ship.
The Type 075 at launch appeared to have 2 large stern elevator, connecting the hangar deck and flight deck, allowing the aircraft to be brought up or lowered as needed. At the rear of the hull is a loading area with a well deck and stern gate. The well deck is a large, open area located at the waterline of ships that can be flooded using ballast tanks to allow smaller water craft to enter and leave the ship.
Type 075 still uses conventional engines instead of installing nuclear reactors. The ship can reach speeds of up to 23 knots, can keep up with the People’s Liberation Army Navy surface fleet.
The Hainan Type 075 is expected to be able to transport 30 attack or transport helicopters, marines, air cushioned ships, armored vehicles and even small submarines. In theory, China’s Type 075 landing helicopter dock will not be able to carry fighters and China does not have any capable fighter aircraft like the F-35B. However, with the ability to carry such a number of helicopters, it is clear that Type 075’s sea combat capability is very dangerous.
In the future China will certainly try to develop a fighter line similar to US F-35B to deploy on board, it could be the J-26 fighter that the Chinese Navy mentioned earlier. Observing the published graphic images, it is easy to recognize that the J-26 uses an engine capable of rotating the exhaust downwards to create thrust similar to the engine of the F-35B. This is the Prerequisites for the aircraft to be able to operate on an amphibious assault ship.
The onboard weaponry is fully self-defense, with two 30mm H/PJ-11 digitally-controlled Close-In Weapon Systems and two HHQ-10 Surface-to-Air Missile launchers. When operational, the Type 075 will be protected by the accompanying fleet, allowing it to focus on its own battlefield role.
China believes that, once J-26 is officially equipped, the Type 075 will possess the power equivalent to the US Wasp class. Unlike the domestic aircraft carriers, there is very little information or images related to the status of the Type 075. Currently, the Chinese Hudong shipyard is constructing two amphibious ships, the Type 075 and the Type 071, both vessels are currently in the final stages.