This is a discussion on The 071 LPD and the Landing Craft within the Navy forums, part of the China Defense & Military category; 998...
Type 071 LPD is one of my favourite ships, however it would be better to have a proper solid landing craft which can carry troops and mechanized utility for true Amphibious assualt, Air-cushioned landing craft are just too vunerable to attack when approaching shores especially if you have missed the enemy and most navy dont use Air-cushioned landing crafts anyway
considering 3 more LPDs are going to join PLAN soon maybe we might see some other types of landing craft used from Type 071 rather than just hovercraft
In modern warfare, speed and mobility are key to survival and success, and air cushioned landing craft have a significant advantage over pretty much all other alternatives in those regards.
If I was a tank commander, even if my tank was amphibious, I would much rather ride to the beach on a LCAC than having to flounder ashore on the tiny props attached to the tank, because not being hit is far better than trying to rely on your armor plate to keep you alive and in the game.
With modern ATGMs, even if you go all Zubar on the LCAC, a direct hit is still going to ruin your day. OTOH, a LCAC going full pelt may be able to spoof or even evade ATGMs, since those missiles were never designed to hit something going quite so fast, so they will be aiming to hit instead of leading as you would against a fast moving target.
I remember there being an episode of Top Gear, where one of the presenters actually managed to 'evade' a missile lock from an Apache with hellfires in a sports car because the car was just moving far too fast and erratically for the targeting computer to lock on to.
they can either carry 2 air cushions or 4 LCMs, each LCM can carry 170 men, so 170 x 4= thats almost 700 men in a single wave in a protected shell, whereas air cushioned craft is not as much also troops are more vunverable
no doubt air cushion has advantage over traditional WWII era slow moving assault boats and vice versa, but most navy including Royal Navy and USN do not use LCAC that much, and they probably have most extensive amphibous experience out of everyone
They do have assault boats, LCMs, and first and foremost ZBD-05 Amphibious IFV which can go something like 20 kts in the water. and also has a 105mm tank destroyer version that can fire in the water. with AAAV project-which-evolved-into-EFV for USMC sunk into mud, ZBD-05 is prob the most capable purpose designed Amphibious assault vehicle in this world.
If the PLAN marines are going to assault a beach, they are going to be doing it while sitting in the IFVs parked on an LCAC.
With an LCAC, the ride doesn't end at the waterline, and these things are prized for their amphibious capabilities, allowing them to transport troops and tanks over sand and other flat terrain almost as fast as it can over water. This is especially useful for assaulting beaches, as the soft sand will easily slow down, and maybe even bog down vehicles and tanks.
The LCAC are relatively thin skinned because they value speed and payload over small arms protection. If they can transport 60ton MBTs, do you really think they couldn't take thicker armor plate if that was deemed such a top priority?
From everything we have seen, the 071s could take 4 Chinese LCACs, so the Mistral has nothing over them in that regard, although it is better armed and has a better flight deck.
The reason most navies do not operate LCACs is because of cost, not any flaw in their design, just like how only a select few nations could think about fielding domestic 5th gen figthers. The US marines use LCAC very extensively, and the Royal marines don't because the British can't afford such luxuries. It's no accident that the British are nicknamed 'the borrowers' but their better equipped American counterparts when jointly deployed.
i.e i am talking about actual landing craft not the landing vehicles, i mean like this one
convincing case for air cushions there Plawolf, but still having LCM is still the way forward i think
Royal Marines also do use LCAC, they have 4 x Griffon 2000 TDX and i think there is a thing or two that the Royal Marines can teach the US Marines
when operating LCM you are able to infiltrate, say for example you are coasting up a river expecting a enemy ambush, they are quite and also deploy a small speed boats to run up ahead and also can carry alot more than a LCAC, a LCAC cant do that, its cushion is too vunerable to attack, LCM is more versatile i think
however having thought about both, i think now PLAN should keep thier LCAC but then also add LCM to thier fleet, they should not exclusively use LCAC, have both use them where and when required for each practical case
using a combination of the 2 will give PLAN more flexibility, and as i said before it maybe a little be pre-mature to start judging PLANs amphibous assualt programme considering they still only have 1 LPD in operation soon to be 2, there is no reason to believe they will not try a LCM in the future
Thanks for the pic Asif, but those LCM's look huge. Perhaps too big for the type 071 hangar to carry.
LCAC can probably make several trips in the time LCM make for one trip, especially over horizon assault. And these are not merely for combat deployment -- they are needed to deliver supplies to beachhead also.
071 LPD is developed per PLA doctrine and equipment. PLA probably has the heaviest (mechanized) amphib troops outside US marine. If you compare 071 with amphib ships of similar size, you will find it is capable of deploying more (amphib) mechanized assets in an assault.
Amphib combat vehicles are comparatively much smaller than LCM and it is low in the water. Think about night time, over horizon amphib assault, with amphib combat vehicles only for maximum surprise. All PLA amphib combat vehicles are equiped with nigh vision, if not thermal sights. And see water should dissipate some of the waste heat and thermal signatures. Such a force may rise of of water to suddenly for the defending force to respond.
Actually the PLA amphibious mechanised infantry divisions are much heavier than the USMC which is basically a light infantry force with towed artillery and a few tank battalions (which they may lose) at division/MEB level.
The USMC has an entire air force of its own. But that has little to do with the degree of mechanisation, i.e. armoured equipment.
A light amphibious vehicle the LAV-25 is indeed light, and belong to the three active Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalions.
To me the AAV-7 of the three active Assault Amphibian Battalions look like floating coffins, but I may be biased due to its ugly exterior.
Btw, no criticism of the USMC was intended, I share the universal admiration of their abilities and find their obvious lack of interest in awfully expensive hardware (they seemed to wave goodbye to the hideously expensive EFV with a light heart) and focus on the individual rifleman highly refreshing in the context of the US military.