A launch ceremony was held for China's first amphibious assault ship, the Type 075, on Wednesday in a move that represents a new era for China's warship development, Chinese military experts said.
Said to be a small aircraft carrier by its appearance, an amphibious assault ship usually features a straight flight deck capable of hosting helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft and short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft, as well as cabins that can hold amphibious tanks, armored vehicles and air-cushioned landing craft (LCAC).
The launch ceremony was held on Wednesday morning in Shanghai, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The warship will see further equipment adjustments and sea trials before its commissioning, according to the Xinhua report.
"The Type 075 will become an indispensable and fresh force in China's modern naval warfare, especially for landing missions," an anonymous military expert told the Global Times.
An amphibious assault ship is the second complex warship built by China, after its aircraft carrier. The immense design, construction and cost allow only a few countries including France and Japan to develop such a warship, the expert said.
Only China and the US are capable of making ships as powerful as the Type 075, the expert said.
The Type 075 has an estimated displacement of 40,000 tons, a length of 250 meters, a width of 30 meters, a draft of 8.5 meters, and a speed of 23 knots, US-based media outlet the National Interest reported in May. This makes the Chinese ship comparable to the US' Wasp-class amphibious assault ship.
The launch of the Type 075 represents a new era for China's warship development, the expert said.
Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the launch of the amphibious assault ship fills in a blank in China's large warships development.
Unlike amphibious landing docks like the Type 071 which China already operates, the Type 075 can carry many more helicopters, allowing it to launch land assaults from much greater distances from shore and provide greater supporting firepower from the air, Wei said.
It also enables the Chinese military to more efficiently deploy troops from farther distances thanks to its large hangers, Wei said.
Many analysts see the Type 075 as a vital tool if the Chinese mainland ever had to reunify the island of Taiwan by force.
If Taiwan secessionists cross the red line, the Type 075 could serve as a stern warning to them and foreign opposition forces, an anonymous expert said.
Chinese military enthusiasts were also amazed by the speed of construction of the Type 075. After its superstructure was completed, its communication and electric systems, including radars and painting, were completed in just a few weeks.
The launch of the Type 075 is not only a gift to the People's Republic of China's 70th founding anniversary, but also shows that China will resolutely carry out its international obligations, safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and maintain peace in the region and around the world, the expert said.