China Claims Their Zubr Class Are Largest Hovercraft

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Marine Corps recently conducted a series of round-the-clock joint amphibious landing drills with Navy surface vessels and the world’s largest hovercraft, enhancing and displaying the PLA Navy’s amphibious landing capabilities, analysts said on Sunday.

A brigade affiliated with the Marine Corps collaborated with the Navy’s surface vessels in recent training courses and drills on loading and offloading amphibious vehicles from landing ships at sea, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Sunday.

The loading and offloading of landing ships are key steps to build up formations before launching an amphibious operation, the report said.

The Type 05 series amphibious vehicles and the Huadingshan, Type 072A amphibious landing ship with hull number 992, took part in the drills, CCTV reported.

At the same time, a Zubr-class air-cushioned landing craft carrying marine troops rushed from the sea toward its designated area in a beach, CCTV reported, noting that upon arrival, the troops soon seized advantageous positions, breached the frontline defense according to tactical plans and launched several waves of offensives on hostile positions.

The Zubr-class air-cushioned landing craft is the largest hovercraft in the world, capable of delivering 360 troops or three battle tanks onto beaches at speeds of up to 60 knots, according to media reports.

The drills continued at night and the strong currents and low visibility brought more challenges to the training, CCTV reported.

“Our large-scale joint exercise this time aimed at boosting our understanding on each other’s characteristics and tactics, contributing to the integration of amphibious combat capabilities and further enhancing amphibious combat capabilities,” Lieutenant Bao Qingchun, a staff officer at the training department of the brigade, told CCTV.

Facing the Taiwan question and issues concerning the Diaoyu Islands and the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, the Chinese military has strong mission requirements for potential amphibious landing missions, leading to intensive exercises as well as the procurement and development of some top-class amphibious equipment, a Beijing-based defense analyst, who requested to remain anonymous, told the Global Times on Sunday.

In addition to the equipment featured in the recent drills, China has also developed main amphibious combat hardware like the Type 726 air-cushioned landing craft, the Type 071 amphibious landing ship, the Type 075 amphibious assault ship and vessel-based helicopters for those crafts, according to media reports.

Large-scale amphibious landing is very complex and challenging since it requires joint and coordinated efforts among the Navy, the Air Force, the Army and the Rocket Force, among other forces, so regular training is important, the analyst said.

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