China Shows Off Futuristic Ships at IDEX

China showed off futurist ships at the biennial International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) 2013 being hosted in Abu Dhabi.

According to the China Defense Blog:

“China is hawking plastics again at the the biennial International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) 2013 being hosted in Abu Dhab. In addition to the ‘usual suspects’ of JF-17, SAM, SPAAA together with a host of long range rockets, a model of “High-Performance Frigate” is on display on the first time. This could be the long rumored Type054B, a follow on variant of the highly successful Type054A currently in mass production with the China Navy.”

What the blog fails to mention is the amphibious transport dock, also called a landing platform/dock (LPD), in the picture.

London-based defense analyst Gary Li believes this vessel is currently in the building stage.

“The LPD and ‘new frigate’ on display at IDEX offers a glimpse of what a potential blue water People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) expeditionary capabilities might look like,” Li said.

“Although these models might not enter production yet, the need for a more comprehensive amphibious warfare capability has been high on the agenda for the PLAN. With the development of the Type 071 LPD, the PLAN managed to fill in a blank in its amphibious capabilities, however the large number of ageing landing ships that still remain in its inventory are more suited for conducting littoral operations and cannot be projected”

Li said it is highly unlikely that the model of the frigate, LPD, and attack submarine were placed together at the same stand for together “they form the nucleus of an amphibious assault group,” The frigate (looking like a modified Type 054), provides air defence while the Ka-28 helicopters on the LPD provide Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities.

Neighbouring countries such as Japan already have several such vessels in service, namely the Hyuga class helicopter carrier, which has been rather imaginatively designated as ‘DDG-H’ (destroyer with helicopter).

Such a platform can also assist the PLA in maintaining its non-traditional security roles such as humanitarian relief and soft power projection.