Monday, October 17, 2011

Update from PLAN land

We saw a good amount of update this past week from different shipyards around the country, so here is a look at them.

First of all, the long wait is finally over and the 3rd 052C has started sea trials this past weekend. I think it actually spent at least a year after it was launched before starting the sea trials. I'm hoping that the next few units would not be outside for as long. This 052C and the next one will probably end up in ESF.

We also have some pictures of the other 052Cs in JN shipyard. The first one is the 4th 052C.

The next one shows the 5th unit. This one looks quite far along and could be launched before the end of the year. Although, they still have to install some stuff on there first.

On this photo, you can barely make out what looks like the 6th 052C on the left side and the 5th 052C on the right side.

We also have some 052C modules outside. I can't really say whether these are for the 6th 052C or for ones after that.

We also have some updated Varyag photos. It looks like there is still quite a bit of work that's been done.

A couple of MCM ships have joined service. The first two shows 841, the 5th of Type 081 class. In this one, it has installed the new 30 mm main gun (that we first saw on 885 replenishment ship) and cut lines in the bow section of the hull (like what we saw in the second batch of 054A). This should be joining the SSF.

The next photo shows 818, the 2nd of Type 082A(??) mine hunter class. It's a little harder to make out changes in this one, but it should be joining ESF.

At HD shipyard, the 6th 054A is now back in the docks. I guess it was let in the water just to allow the 3rd 071 to be launched. We see more photos of the 5th 054A and the 2 071 class. It's interesting that we still see scaffolding on the 2nd 071 even after it has returned from the first set of sea trials.

I also have this photo of Type 726 Chinese LCAC carrying a ZTZ96 MBT. I think it should be capable of carrying more, but we haven't seen that yet. There was a recent article that interview the captain of the lead unit of this class. Interesting thing of note is that the width of Type 726 is only 1.8 m less than the width of the Type 071 well deck. Also, the article talked about reaching speed of 55 knots. Although, I'm not sure if it's referring to cruising speed or maximum speed there.

This pictures shows 540, one of the Jiangwei-I class ships, going into the docks for some refitting. I don't think the work will be as extensive as what was done on 052A class, but it's worth noting the continuous refitting that PLAN is doing to keep its older ships relevant (rather than just build new ones). Maybe that's something USN can learn about in their so called austerity era.

At HP shipyard, there is not that much activity. The 6th 054A is still sitting outside and the 7th 054A has a couple of months to go before it's ready to be launched. At the same time, they still have more 022s lying around. I thought the 022 production at HP shipyard ended a long time ago.

There have also been some updated photos of new 039B (Yuan modified) units and of that new experimental SSK, but I feel a little inadequate to post them, since I have lost track of how many 039Bs have been launched. I think it's 4 from Wuchang shipyard and 1 from JN shipyard, but that's just a rough guess.

So, that's all I have for this time from the numerous shipyards.

I have recently thought about writing an entry on the economic problems that lie ahead of us and how that would affect future international relations and the different world militaries. My current frustration with political progress in the US, Europe and China will make that an extremely long article, so I simply do not have time to write that right now. Maybe I will be able to sit down and write something in two weeks when I have a long flight to the west coast for a friend's wedding. The point that I want to emphasize is that ensuring good livelihood and happiness of the average population is the most important part for a government. At the end of the day, every RMB/dollar that's spend building these ships is one less RMB/dollar that can be spent on domestic programs. It's easy for PLAN followers to get excited about new ships and naval technology, but that cannot be sustained if China (or any other country) suffers through economic hardship. You guys will have to wait for another day to hear my rant!