Multi-Type Army Helicopters Conduct Deck-Landing Training on Civilian Semi-Submersible Vessel
(Source: China Military Online; issued Aug 21, 2020)
China’s answer to the US Navy’s Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB) ships has made its appearance in a program broadcast by the state-owned CCTV television, from which this image was captured.
BEIJING --- Recently, an army aviation brigade under the PLA 71st Group Army organized multi-type helicopters to conduct deck-landing training, fuel and ammunition replenishment and emergency repair on a civilian semi-submersible vessel, in a bid to test support capabilities.

According to the training scenario, after the multi-type helicopters flied to the target island, the transport helicopter selected a site for landing with the attack helicopter on alert overhead. Then the transport helicopter carried the mocked wounded soldiers to a civilian semi-submersible vessel for a replenishment-at-sea.

During the training, the multi-type helicopters landed precisely on the deck of civilian semi-submersible vessel and quickly received fuel and ammunition supplies.

Colonel Xu Yifeng, deputy commander of the army aviation brigade under the PLA 71st Group Army, said that this training has effectively improved the pilots’ deck-landing ability on the offshore platforms and also the maintenance personnel’s comprehensive support capacity, laying a solid foundation for the cross-sea operations of the PLA Army’s helicopters.

It is learnt that the civilian semi-submersible vessel participating in the training is manufactured by the Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. The middle area of the vessel’s deck is equipped with 3 helipads, which can carry and support multiple types of helicopters in active service to conduct cross-sea operations, such as the WZ-10, WZ-19, and Z-8 helicopters. China has so far dozens of dual-use semi-submersible vessels.

Chinese military expert Li Jie said on August 20 that the large semi-submersible ship can take advantage of its large deck and better stability to temporarily serve as a platform to carry helicopters, an offshore parking apron, and a replenishment and repair center when performing some tasks in offshore areas, especially those with air domination. If missions are performed around large islands or reefs, a large semi-submersible ship can also be deployed at each end of the islands or reefs as maritime relay platforms to further enhance the cross-sea combat capability of the helicopters and to increase the helicopters’ combat radius.

Li also believed that with the improvement of China's shipbuilding technology, the current large-tonnage civilian semi-submersible vessels with relatively advanced technology have great potential for military-civilian integration.

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