NEWSWEEK – Story by Aadil Brar

The Chinese navy may soon receive a boost to its ability to fight amphbious warfare following the quiet launch of the service’s fourth Type 075 assault ship.

The new Type 075 Landing Helicopter Dock, three of which have already been commissioned, was launched at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in coastal Shanghai, where it was seen by local ship spotters.

A photograph shared to Weibo, China’s X-like microblogging platform, showed the helicopter carrier in the water and surrounded by tug boats on December 14.

The warship’s presence was yet another sign of the People’s Liberation Army‘s massive military buildup under President Xi Jinping, whose sizable land forces are now being complemeted by advanced fighter and strategic bomber aircraft, as well as a “far seas” fleet of aircraft carriers and large destroyers.

The PLA Navy is already the largest naval service in the world in terms of surface combatant numbers. If current shipbuilding trends continue, it will soon overtake the U.S. Navy in terms of tonnage, too.

To be sure, U.S. Navy warfighting experience and technical know-how will be hard to match in the short term. Apart from outmatching China‘s active carrier fleet by 11 to two, the United States also boasts mature nuclear propulsion, which the Chinese navy has yet to adopt for its “flat-top” warships.

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