China appears to be developing a Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) similar in concept to that being built by the United States, reports the Beijing-based Sina Military Network.
Photos of a Chinese military vessel resembling the US Navy’s MLP were recently released by the Chinese military magazine Modern Ships, leading to speculation that China is trying to develop its own “floating base.”
The MLP is a type of amphibious assault ship described by Sina Military as “half-submarine and half-boat” because it has a semi-submersible deck for ease of transferring cargo and equipment.
The main purpose of the MLP is to transport heavy weaponry and combat supplies as well as act as a transfer point between large ships and small landing craft. It is different to ordinary landing ships and amphibious assault ships in that it is used primarily for transport as opposed to combat.
Analysts believe MLPs would significantly boost the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s strategic and combat capabilities, whether it is to conduct large-scale landing operations in a potential conflict with Taiwan or to assist in patrols and law enforcement in the South China Sea, where it is engaged in territorial disputes with countries including Vietnam and the Philippines.
Full article: Leaked photos suggest PLA developing mobile landing platform (Want China Times)