The Global Times reported that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy-Marine Corps recently conducted a series of round-the-clock joint amphibious landing drills with Navy surface vessels and the Zubr-class air-cushioned landing craft (LCAC), enhancing and displaying the PLA Navy’s amphibious landing capabilities. Zubr-class air-cushioned landing craft carrying marine troops rushed from the sea toward its designated area on a beach, noting that upon arrival, the troops soon seized advantageous positions, breached the frontline defense according to tactical plans, and launched several waves of offensives on hostile positions.
The Type 05 series amphibious vehicles and the Huadingshan, Type 072A amphibious landing ship with hull number 992, also took part in the drills. A brigade affiliated with the Marine Corps collaborated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s surface vessels in recent training courses and drills on loading and offloading amphibious vehicles from landing ships at sea. The loading and offloading of landing ships are key steps to building up formations before launching an amphibious operation. The drills continued at night and the strong currents and low visibility brought more challenges to the training.
The Zubr class (Project 1232.2, NATO reporting name “Pomornik”) is a class of Soviet-designed air-cushioned landing craft (LCAC). The name “Zubr” is Polish for the European bison. This class of military hovercraft is the world’s largest, with a standard full load displacement of 555 tons. The hovercraft was designed to sealift amphibious assault units from equipped/non-equipped vessels to non-equipped shores, as well as to transport and plant naval mines. Ten Zubr-class hovercraft remain in service. There are two vessels in the Russian Navy and four in the Hellenic Navy. In 2009 China placed an order for four vessels from Ukraine as part of a deal worth 315 million USD.
The Zubr-class landing craft has a cargo area of 400 square meters (4,300 sq ft) and a fuel capacity of 56 tons. It can carry three main battle tanks (up to 150 tonnes), ten armored vehicles with 140 troops (up to 131 tonnes), 8 armored personnel carriers of total mass up to 115 tonnes, or 8 amphibious tanks or up to 500 troops (with 360 troops in the cargo compartment). At full displacement, the ship is capable of negotiating up to 5-degree gradients on non-equipped shores and 1.6 m (5 ft 3 in)-high vertical walls. The Zubr class remains seaworthy in conditions up to Sea State 4. The vessel has a cruising speed of 30–40 knots (56–74 km/h; 35–46 mph).