Chinese Shipyards Launch Seventh Carrier Warship: What is the Type 075 Class’ Role?

The Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai on December 14 has moved its fourth Type 075 carrier for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy out of dry dock, with a ceremony marking the event which brings the combined carrier fleet to close to 360,000 tons. The fleet of Type 075 Class ships was previously expected to reach just three vessels, but the latest estimates indicate that it could reach up to eight. The ships displace approximately 40,000 tons, placing them in the same weight range as the U.S. Navy’s America Class carriers and the French nuclear powered carrier Charles De Gaulle. The ships are capable of deploying a wide range of manned and unmanned rotary wing aircraft, making them well suited to roles such as supporting amphibious landings or anti submarine warfare efforts. Each also has floodable well deck to disembark amphibious assault vehicles for landings, making them potentially highly useful in theatres such as the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait. 

The first Type 075 Class ship the Hainan was launched from the Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai in September 2019 and began sea trials the following year, before formally entering service in April 2021. The two other ships from the class were subsequently launched in April 2020 and January 2021. Each can reportedly deploy up to 30 small helicopters or up to 20 larger aircraft, with Ka-31 ‘flying radar’ airborne early warning helicopters first seen deployed from one of the ships, the Guangxi, in June 2022. The deployment of such helicopters has raised speculation that the carriers could eventually deploy fighter aircraft with vertical landing capabilities comparable to the American F-35B or Soviet Yak-41, with the Type 075’s closest foreign analogues the U.S. Navy’s Wasp Class and America Class ships both serving as carriers for F-35B units. Deployment of fighters from the Type 075 has been speculated since the ship class was first confirmed.