China debuts Zubr LCAC in show of amphibious force in South China Sea

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China debuts Zubr LCAC in show of amphibious force in South China Sea
Ridzwan Rahmat, Singapore and Andrew Tate, London - IHS Jane's Navy International
21 July 2015


Images from Chinese state television show what is said to be the Zubr-class LCAC's debut in an amphibious landing drill. Source: Chinese state television.

The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) featured one of its Zubr-class landing craft air cushion (LCAC) for the first time in an amphibious landing exercise, Chinese state television CCTV reported on 20 July.

IHS Jane's understands that the drill was conducted on Hainan Island, which is in the South China Sea and the main location for the PLAN's South Sea Fleet bases.

While it is not clear whether it was from the same exercise, other CCTV footage shows the LCAC being transported and unloaded from the PLAN's new semi-submersible heavy lift ship Donghaidao (868). Construction of this ship was reported by IHS Jane's in early June and the ship was commissioned into the PLAN's South Sea Fleet on 10 July.

The CCTV report described the exercise as testing the PLAN's ability to land an amphibious assault force in collaboration with other parts of the armed forces. Screen grabs from the report show what appears to be a PLA Type 99 main battle tank (MBT) emerging from the LCAC.

According to IHS Jane's Fighting Ships , the Zubr-class (Project 1232.2 class, 'Pomornik') LCAC is capable of embarking three MBTs or 10 armoured personnel carriers with 230 troops. The vessel, referred to in Chinese media as the 'Bison hovercraft', has a top speed of 60 kt and a range of 300 n miles at 55 kt.

IHS Jane's reported in 2009 that the PLAN was procuring four Zubr-class LCACs from Ukraine - two of which are being built in China - in a deal estimated to be worth USD315 million.
China debuts Zubr LCAC in show of amphibious force in South China Sea - IHS Jane's 360
 
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