I've noticed on CDF that they posted a blog entry on 071 possibly going down to Gulf of Aden. There are some photos here showing a PLAN Z-8 helicopter pilot leaving his 1-year old son to "train for a long range" mission. At present time, Z-8s are pretty much only operating on the large ships like 071 and the new hospital ship. It also makes sense that they would want to send 071 down there to test it out a little bit in a long range deployment. They have already sent all of their other new toys down there. We have seen recent photos of gun pod armed Z-8s flying around. This is similar to the modifications they made on Z-9s that were part of the Gulf of Aden expedition. Here are some of those photos:
As a sign of confidence to the 071 platform, they are building a new ship that looks like another unit or a successor of 071 in HuDong shipyard. Here are some of the pictures of its modules. We should have a better idea of its configurations in a few months.
Now, we have a bunch of photos from different shipyards recently. Most of these are coming from HuDong shipyard in Shanghai.
Here is the photos of the recently launched 054A. It is the 4th unit launched from HD shipyard. I don't think there are any new units currently under construction, so this is probably the last 054 series ship we see for a while (like a year). They normally build in bunches of 4s. The next 4 might just have minor improvement on this 4 or might have major changes to become 054B. We will see.
I do find the development for this ship kind of amazing because it was actually launched last week. Meaning, we went from the last set of pictures (which was still unpainted and without many sensors) to launched in 10 days.
Here is the final one of the 3 F-22Ps being built for the Pakistani Navy. It's given the number 253. And it should be sailing off to PN sometimes this year.
Also, we have elint ship 853 getting all of the sensors added and scaffolding removed. This is an improvement upon the current elint ship 851. This ship should be going on sea trials any day now.
And finally, we have some updated photos of Varyag. The sensors still have not been installed on the island yet. And there are still plenty of sheds on the deck indicating the amount of work left to be done.