PLAN Strategy in the Taiwan Strait


Suetham

Junior Member
Registered Member
Amphibious vehicles like the ZBD-05 can't cross the entire strait on their own can they? I see wikipedia listing a 500km range but idk if that's on land or what.

If they actually can that would negate a huge need for ships.
The range of the ZBD-05 at sea must not exceed 60 km. The AAV which is an old vehicle has a range on water of 37 km, while the new ACV has a range of 22 km on water. Just as a comparison, the ZBD 2000 which is a light amphibious tank some sources put it has a range of 90 km in the water.

The ZBD-05 is also a faster and longer-range vehicle than these two USMC amphibious vehicles, the water speed is 45 km/h, which exceeds the AAV's 13.2 km/h and 28 km/h. of the new Phase 2 ACV which is still under development. The range on land is 500 km, which exceeds the 480 km of the AAV and the 400 km of the ACV and the number of units must be at 600 in service in the PLANMC.
 

drowingfish

Junior Member
Registered Member
I don't despise airborne or helicopter transport across the Taiwan Straits.
If you already have the helicopters for other reasons, then there's no reason they can't be used.

But helicopters are very limited in the amount of weight they can transport
A single Type-073A LST can transport over 500 tonnes and make almost 2 round trips per day.
That is far more payload than any helicopter.
Plus a single Type-073A LST has a lower overall cost than a helicopter.

A US Army Stryker Brigade requires 20000tonnes of lift and an Infantry Brigade is 12000tonnes.
Trying to airlift large loads by helicopter is far more difficult that using LSTs

I'm looking at the locations of the Army Amphibious Brigades and the Marine Corps Brigades, and I've got different locations for them all.
the advantage of helicopters are two fold:
1. allows for quick invasion of islets between Taiwan and mainland, so Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and Dongyin, without having to commit large number of landing crafts.
2. enables the PLA to by pass harsh terrain, which makes up for the majority of Taiwan's western coastline (even worse on the east)
 

AndrewS

Colonel
Registered Member
the advantage of helicopters are two fold:
1. allows for quick invasion of islets between Taiwan and mainland, so Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and Dongyin, without having to commit large number of landing crafts.
2. enables the PLA to by pass harsh terrain, which makes up for the majority of Taiwan's western coastline (even worse on the east)

Yes. But if you need to transport large amounts of cargo or vehicles, you can't do it with helicopters
 

AndrewS

Colonel
Registered Member
Both the Type 071 and Type 075 have anti-aircraft defenses on board, in terms of Taiwan AShM survivability, they are in a superior position to LSTs that don't even have CIWS, despite having anti-aircraft guns. The Type 071, in addition to having a 76 mm AK-176 anti-aircraft gun, has 4 AK-630 30 mm CIWS and has passive decoy/chaff defenses. The Type 075 has 2 30mm H/PJ-11 CIWS and 2 sets of HQ-10 SAM.

Now the PLAN has 29 Type 072 LSTs (in 2020 it had 37 units) that have made great achievements from the 1990s to the first decade of this century. Time has changed and to complete the great cause of reunification of the Chinese homeland is underway, the PLAN needs more landing ships of the Type 071 series (12-16 ships) and also the Type 075 series, an analysis by Janes suggests China the PLAN to operate 12 Type 075s in 2030, which adds 8100 mechanized troops. The add-on will also come in the form of the Type 938 which already has 6 units in service. If it needs to increase landing capacity, the PLAN can produce more Type 072A in order to compensate for the withdrawal of other LSTs.


Let's analyze.

Type 067 landing craft/utility: Retired.
Type 072: Retired.
Type 074: Retired.
Type 271IIIA: Retired.

In service in early 2022

LST:
Type 072II: 3 units. Capacity of 200 troops/10 tanks (ZTZ-96). One was withdrawn from service, prefixed with 930 in July 2021.
Type 072-III YUTING I: 11 units. Capacity of 250 troops/10 tanks and 2 helicopters.
Type 072A: 15 units. Capacity of 250 troops/10 tanks and 2 helicopters or 2 LCAC Type 724s and 1 helicopter.
Type 073A: 10 units. Transports 75 people/6 tanks.
Type 073I: 1 unit. Capacity of 500 troops or 5 tanks. This one will be retired soon.
Type 074A: 11 units. Capacity of 250 troops or 3 Type 096 tanks or a platoon of Type 059 tanks (3 vehicles) and an infantry platoon (70 soldiers) or 6 ZTD-05 amphibious vehicles or towed medium-caliber trucks.

What capacity? 11,100 troops with armored vehicles/tanks and 52 helicopters. Basically a landing force capable of supporting 4 amphibious brigades.

LCAC:
Type 958(Zubr): 6 units. Capacity of 360 troops or 3 ZTZ-96 tanks (total weight 150 tons) or 8 ZBD-05 tanks (total weight 150 tons) or 10 armored vehicles + 140 soldiers (total weight 131 tons) or 8 armored vehicles + 140 soldiers ( total weight 115 tons) or 500 armed soldiers (360 of them in the cabin).
Type 726: 38 units. Capacity of 80 people or 1 tank or 2 IFVs.

What capacity? 5200 troops with armored vehicles/tanks.
_________________________________________________

LPD:
Type 071: 8 units. Capacity of 800 troops/60 vehicles and 4 helicopters.

What capacity? 6400 troops/480 amphibious vehicles and 32 helicopters.

LHD:
Type 075: 3 units(2+1). Capacity of 1200 troops/40 vehicles, 2 LCAC Type 726s and 30 helicopters.

What capacity? 3600 troops/120 vehicles, 6 LCAC Type 726s and 90 helicopters.

Totaling a landing capacity of 26300 mechanized troops supported by hundreds of amphibious vehicles/tanks and 204 helicopters.

For a mechanised brigade, it's not really about troop capacity on a ship. It's about how many vehicles you can land, because each vehicle takes up a certain length of space and is far heavier than the men it holds. A ZBD-05 is 26.5tonnes, but the 11 men are less than 1 tonne in weight.

For an Army Amphibious Brigade, my guess is 440 Amphibious Vehicles + 380 JLTV/Humvee + 500 Trucks.
You need most of the JLTV/Humvees fairly quickly as they are part of the command or fire support vehicles.
Plus at least some trucks for vehicle refuelling and resupply within the first 12 hours.
So my guess is a lift requirement which is approximately double the number of Amphibious Vehicles.

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The combat elements of Infantry/Airborne Brigades are far easier to land via ship or helicopter. The number of men that could be landed far exceeds requirements. Infantry Brigades with Unmanned Ground Vehicles would seem to be the most efficient/effective units for Urban/Mountain warfare.

But my guess is that each Brigade still has 400 trucks for resupply and to transport men.
 
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plawolf

Brigadier
Are helicopters actually the best way to cross the Taiwan Straits?

An Mi-17 helicopter costs $18 Million and has a payload of 30 troops or 5 tonnes.

In comparison, a Type-072A LST likely costs about $14M and has a payload of approx 18 medium vehicles or 500+ tonnes.
That is based on the cost of the Indonesian Teluk Bintuni LSTs which are roughly the same length (120m) and displacement (4800tonnes) which cost $13.5 Million each.

Yes, LSTs are slower, but over the course of a day, the LST would be able to land far more troops and equipment than a helicopter.
Plus the LSTs would be a lot cheaper to operate and less vulnerable than a helicopter.

If the helicopters already exist, then yes, they might as well be used.
But for resupply and landing larger numbers of troops, more landing ships are the way to go.
The larger Type-071 LPDs look too big (25000tonnes) and expensive ($200 Million for the Thai export variant).
But the Type-072s are big enough to fit a single Mechanised Combined Arms Company.

---

Looking at the existing amphibious fleet, it looks like there is enough sealift for the combat vehicles of 2 Amphibious Mechanised Brigades in the Chinese Army.

But there are actually 6 Army Amphibious Mechanised Brigades in total. Given the 2027 target to build the capability to successfully invade and conquer Taiwan, if China wanted to land the combat elements of all these Brigades on Taiwan in the single wave with LSTs, I get a figure of an extra 104 Type-072A LST for these 4 Brigades. The resupply elements would follow 12+ hours later once the LSTs sail back to Chinese ports to load up.

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In terms of Light Infantry Brigades, small landing craft like the Type-067 LCU (135tonnes) would work. My guestimate is that they might only cost $2-4 Million each. But each craft could carry a company of infantry troops along with their Unmanned Ground Vehicles. So my guess is that 24 of these LCUs would be enough to transport the combat elements of an Infantry Brigade. I see 4 Infantry Brigades assigned to the 3 Army Corps on the Coast which also have Amphibious Brigades. Plus there are many more Infantry Brigades assigned to other Army Corps.

Taiwan would primarily be an infantry/drone/recon battle because the terrain is mostly mountainous or urban.

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These LSTs and LCUs are well within the capabilities of Chinese shipyards to build quickly and cheaply.
104 Type-072A LST would have an acquisition cost of $1.5 Billion. Another 96 Type-067 LCU might cost $0.4 Billion

So by 2027, we could be looking at the combat elements for 6 Army Amphibious Brigades and 4+ Army Infantry Brigades via landing craft in a single wave onto beaches in Taiwan. You'd be looking at over 300 landing craft in the area, covered by at least 30 Air Defence Destroyers and Frigates. That's a minimum of 2000 SAMs plus overhead AWACs and fighter cover.

And then there would also be Airborne Brigades via plane and helicopter, along with Marine Amphibious Brigades via the Type-071 LPDs and the Type-075 LHDs.

The shift from LST to LHD and LHA is a natural progression as a result of shifting balance of power between the strait.

LST’s core attributes can best be described as: cheap and expendable.

They are small and have effectively zero self defence capabilities.

Ideally, they should be used as third wave logistical support after a beachhead had already been taken and secured.

As such, you should suffer zero, or at most minimal losses to your LST fleet, and they can just keep going back and forth throughout the campaign. That means you don’t need so many of them as to be able to fit your entire campaign force on them all in one go!

Helicopters will be going in as part of the first wave, to help take the beachhead. Their numbers have nothing to do with LSTs. They are different tools for different jobs and not a either/or choice. You need both!

For beach assault armour, that’s what the 071 and Zubr fleets are for. Between them, they should be able to bring more than enough heavy and amphibious armour to take the beachhead and secure it. Then the LST can drop off their first load which will allow the PLA to start pushing further and further out.
 

AndrewS

Colonel
Registered Member
Both the Type 071 and Type 075 have anti-aircraft defenses on board, in terms of Taiwan AShM survivability, they are in a superior position to LSTs that don't even have CIWS, despite having anti-aircraft guns. The Type 071, in addition to having a 76 mm AK-176 anti-aircraft gun, has 4 AK-630 30 mm CIWS and has passive decoy/chaff defenses. The Type 075 has 2 30mm H/PJ-11 CIWS and 2 sets of HQ-10 SAM.

Air defences are not a significant factor.

Look at the cost of each of the options:

Type-072A LST. 18 vehicles. $13 Million based on comparable Indonesian LST
Type-071 LPD. 60 vehicles. $200 Million based on the Thai export cost
Type-075 LHD. 40 vehicles. $1000 Million based on half of the US equivalent

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Let's say an Amphibious/Medium Brigade is as follows:

440 Amphibious/Armoured Vehicles + 380 JLTV/Humvee + 500 Trucks.
For an initial wave, call it 880 vehicles in total, with the rest following 12+ hours later. You could do it with

Option 1. 49x Type-072A LST. 18 vehicles each. $637 Million Ship Cost
Option 2. 15x Type-071 LPD. 60 vehicles each. $3000 Million Ship Cost
Option 3. 22x Type-075 LHD. 40 vehicles each. $22000 Million Ship Cost

So you can see that the LST option is by far the lowest cost option and because there are so many of them, you can afford to take losses. In comparison, there are a lot fewer Type-071 and Type-075s, and it still only takes 1 antiship missile to take any of these ships out.

In fact, you could buy 49x LSTs plus 4x Type-052D Air-Defence destroyers and it would still be the lowest cost option.
 

AndrewS

Colonel
Registered Member
The shift from LST to LHD and LHA is a natural progression as a result of shifting balance of power between the strait.

LST’s core attributes can best be described as: cheap and expendable.

They are small and have effectively zero self defence capabilities.

Ideally, they should be used as third wave logistical support after a beachhead had already been taken and secured.

As such, you should suffer zero, or at most minimal losses to your LST fleet, and they can just keep going back and forth throughout the campaign. That means you don’t need so many of them as to be able to fit your entire campaign force on them all in one go!

Helicopters will be going in as part of the first wave, to help take the beachhead. Their numbers have nothing to do with LSTs. They are different tools for different jobs and not a either/or choice. You need both!

For beach assault armour, that’s what the 071 and Zubr fleets are for. Between them, they should be able to bring more than enough heavy and amphibious armour to take the beachhead and secure it. Then the LST can drop off their first load which will allow the PLA to start pushing further and further out.

Yes, that is how I see it.

But you still need a large number of LSTs to land the initial amphibious armoured vehicles, plus the follow-on vehicles and supplies.

You have to assume that any captured ports or temporary piers will come under attack. But LSTs can use a beach.

Given the potential number of Taiwanese defenders, you would want to put a minimum of 3 entire Army Corps onshore within the first few days. But if more forces are put in initially, the higher the chances of success and the quicker the campaign.

If a campaign lasts even 1 day less, how much is that worth?

Aside from the destruction and cost in lives:
Taiwan's GDP is $2 Billion per day and would be crippled.
China's GDP is currently $46 Billion per day but say it is 10% affected.

So each day is worth at least $6 Billion in output.

Buying a hundred LSTs for $1.3 Billion would be worth it, if it shortens a conflict by even 12 hours.

And we've seen that 2027 is the stated deadline for the Chinese military to develop the capability for a successful invasion of Taiwan. So I don't see how they can avoid a requirement for a large number of LSTs to be built in the next 5 years.

NB. I've left out operating costs, but it doesn't change the overall analysis.
 

Suetham

Junior Member
Registered Member
The shift from LST to LHD and LHA is a natural progression as a result of shifting balance of power between the strait.

LST’s core attributes can best be described as: cheap and expendable.

They are small and have effectively zero self defence capabilities.

Ideally, they should be used as third wave logistical support after a beachhead had already been taken and secured.

As such, you should suffer zero, or at most minimal losses to your LST fleet, and they can just keep going back and forth throughout the campaign. That means you don’t need so many of them as to be able to fit your entire campaign force on them all in one go!

Helicopters will be going in as part of the first wave, to help take the beachhead. Their numbers have nothing to do with LSTs. They are different tools for different jobs and not a either/or choice. You need both!

For beach assault armour, that’s what the 071 and Zubr fleets are for. Between them, they should be able to bring more than enough heavy and amphibious armour to take the beachhead and secure it. Then the LST can drop off their first load which will allow the PLA to start pushing further and further out.
It is exactly this kind of argument that I am trying to introduce here.
 

Suetham

Junior Member
Registered Member
Air defences are not a significant factor.

Look at the cost of each of the options:

Type-072A LST. 18 vehicles. $13 Million based on comparable Indonesian LST
Type-071 LPD. 60 vehicles. $200 Million based on the Thai export cost
Type-075 LHD. 40 vehicles. $1000 Million based on half of the US equivalent
Costs are one factor, capacity is another factor.

Undoubtedly, due to the costs, an LST is much more recommendable to have in large numbers, however, the capacity as a whole must also be analyzed. It's no use having 30 LSTs trying to land on a beach, if with just one battery of Taiwanese coastal anti-ship missiles you can neutralize all that landing force.
 

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