Enter the dragon: inside China’s new model navy

By Torbjørg Hemmingsen

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has drawn world attention with its rapid modernisation and expansion in recent years. In the early days of the current Libyan crisis, the PLAN sent one of its newest frigates to assist in the evacuation of Chinese nationals – the first time the service had conducted operations in the Mediterranean Sea. The Jiangkai II-class (Type 054A) frigate Xuzhou (530) was able to transit rapidly through the Suez Canal into Libyan waters because it was conducting counter-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden.

These patrols, which began in December 2008, marked the PLAN’s first extended operation outside of home waters. In July 2010 the navy demonstrated a new level of capability when it deployed the 17,600-ton landing platform dock (LPD) ship Kunlun Shan (998), with embarked helicopters and interceptor boats, to waters off Somalia. Thus, over a relatively short period, the PLAN has moved from a ‘brown water’ coastal defence force to one with ‘blue water’ global reach.

Enter the dragon: inside China’s new model navy

Jane’s Navy International

Torbjørg Hemmingsen

Posted April 2011

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