Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Corvette, submarine, aircraft carrier: has Chinese shipbuilding caught up with the West in 2023?

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Recent photos, revealed on Chinese social networks, show the considerable technological advances in Chinese shipbuilding in recent years, to the point of now flirting with the most advanced Western ships. From the Fujian aircraft carrier to the new Type 039C submarine, what do these new Chinese ships tell us about the technological level reached by Beijing in recent years?

At the beginning of the 1990s, Chinese military shipbuilding lagged far behind its Western and Soviet/Russian counterparts. Thus, the Type 053H1G Jianghu-V frigates, which entered service between 1993 and 1995, carried only 8 YJ-8 anti-ship missiles, an illicit copy of the French MM-38 Exocet, naval artillery and anti-rocket launchers. -submarines, an armament that was found on Western units dating from the 60s or 70s.

Chinese shipbuilding has made up for 30 years of technological delay in the last 30 years

In fact, for a long time, the generally widespread perception of Chinese naval power was far from flattering, particularly in the West. Convinced that they were of their technological superiority, and of their advance in this field compared to Chinese production, American and European industrialists and military personnel were largely slow to react to the rise in power and rapid technological progress of Chinese shipyards, and with them, naval forces of the People's Liberation Army.

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Type 053H3 jiangwei II
Chinese frigates of the 1980s, like this Type 053H3 jiangwei II, displayed equipment and technological capabilities comparable to that of Western ships of the 1960s.

Indeed, in barely 30 years, they have not only made up for the 25 to 30 years of technological delay that they had vis-à-vis Western navies and shipyards, but they are now able to develop and implement in service equipment as efficient as the most recent and advanced productions of the Western world.

Several recent observations thus corroborate this worrying assertion, to say the least, while beyond the obvious technological advances, Chinese shipyards can also boast incomparably higher production rates than in Western shipyards.

The Fujian aircraft carrier, the largest and most powerful non-American aircraft carrier on the planet

The first demonstration of this Chinese technological mastery came from the new Type 003 Fujian aircraft carrier , a ship weighing more than 80,000 tons, equipped with electromagnetic catapults, and a powerful defense and command system, making it the most powerful modern aircraft carrier, after the American super aircraft carriers of the Nimitz and Ford classes.

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At the same time, the Chinese Navy admitted into service the first three Type 075-class assault helicopter carriers , counterparts to the US Navy's new America-class LHD. 237 meters long and with a tonnage of 40,000 tonnes, they are designed to land 800 Chinese marines and their 60 vehicles using three hovercraft and around thirty helicopters, giving Beijing long-distance power projection capabilities . held until now only by the US Navy.

LHD Type 075 Chinese
The Chinese Navy's Type 075 LHDs are very close, in size and performance, to the US Navy's Wasp and America class LHDs.

LOGO meta defense 70 Military Naval Constructions | Defense Analysis | Assault Fleet

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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