“Insight into Operations: Chinese PLA Southern Theater Command’s Type 726 LCAC Conducts Beach Landing Training” FAT

China’s Type 726 LCACs in Naval Landing Ship Exercise

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China’s Type 726 Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) was recently deployed in a naval landing ship exercise off the coast of Hainan Island, challenging the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLA) capabilities. The exercise took place on January 6, 2022, and involved the Southern Theater Command Navy, showcasing the strength of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

These LCACs, also known as Yuyi-class, are a class of air-cushioned landing craft crucial for the PLA. Six Yuyi-class LCACs were delivered to the PLA, with the first one being seen in 2007. Located at Zhanjiang Naval Base, most of these craft are stationed at Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island.

The Type 726 LCAC, referred to as the Yuyi class in NATO terminology, is a class of air-cushioned landing craft used by the PLA. These vessels have seen remarkable developments over the years. The first three LCACs were powered by Ukrainian UGT 6000 engines, while the remaining four are driven by indigenous QC-70 gas turbines. Up to four Yuyi-class LCACs can be carried on the well deck of the 210-meter-long Yuzhao-class landing platform dock (LPD). These LCACs are launched from the dock for various operations.

During the recent naval exercise, the air-cushioned landing craft attacked a naval landing ship fleet offshore, thus strengthening their capability. Such exercises conducted by the PLA demonstrate their commitment to enhance their naval forces.

The Type 726 LCAC is larger than the US LCACs, making it capable of carrying more significant loads and larger armored vehicles. This offers China a substantial advantage in amphibious operations. To accommodate these four LCACs, the LPD’s well deck was specially designed to facilitate their rapid launch and recovery.

China’s ambition in developing its amphibious capabilities is evident through the introduction of the Yuyi-class LCACs, and recent satellite imagery of the Jianjiang Shipyard highlights their continuous efforts to increase their numbers. A total of eight Type 726As were spotted at the shipyard, which could imply a substantial increase in their operational capacity.

In conclusion, China’s Type 726 LCACs play a vital role in the nation’s amphibious capabilities and have proven their effectiveness in recent naval exercises. The ongoing advancements and increasing numbers of these air-cushioned landing craft demonstrate China’s commitment to strengthening its naval forces and expanding its influence in the region.

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