20 Jan 15. Airbus sells Belgium plant. Selling what the company deemed a “non-core” business area, Airbus sold its electronics production facility in Oostkamp, Belgium, to Parter Capital Group, the company announced on 21 January. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. In a press release Airbus Defence and Space, the group that operated the facility for Airbus, said that the facility will still produce parts for the company under a new agreement. Oostkamp makes radar components, power amplifiers, and transponders through the work of 150 local employees. “By this strategic move, Airbus Defence and Space will consolidate its electronics production capabilities and develop further synergies,” the Airbus press release said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
22 Jan 15. China launches fourth Type 071 LPD. Key Points:
* China launched three ships from its Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai on 22 January, including the fourth Type 071 landing platform dock
* The other two were a Type 054A frigate and a Type 815 intelligence gathering ship
The Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai launched its fourth Type 071 landing platform dock (LPD) amphibious assault ship for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) on 22 January.
Internet bloggers have also posted pictures online of two further ships launched by the Shanghai-Hudong shipyard the same day. The 21st Type 054A ‘Jiangkai II’ class frigate was launched and subsequently berthed alongside another Jiangkai II frigate (hull 19), which has been fitting out since it was launched in September 2013. The other ship to be launched was the fifth Type 815 ‘Dongdiao’ class intelligence gathering ship (AGI), which berthed adjacent to two other Type 815Gs that are fitting out, one of which was launched in April 2014. A total of six Type 071 LPDs are anticipated. Three Type 071s are currently stationed in the PLAN’s South Sea Fleet base at Zhanjiang and it is possible that three more may be based with the East Sea Fleet. The Type 071 has an estimated length of 210 m, a displacement of 18,500 tonnes, and a well deck capable of holding four Yuyi-class assault hovercraft. If the hovercraft are removed it is estimated to be able to accommodate up to about 60 armoured vehicles and about 800 troops. The Type 071s hanger can hold up to four 13-ton Z-8 or Z-18 helicopters. In 2014 the PLAN exercised with PLA Army Aviation Z-10 attack helicopters, so it is likely that the Type 071 may eventually accommodate this helicopter. New lighter armour systems that have recently entered PLA Army and marine service have increased the flexibility of the Type 071 since its introduction. For example, the 26.5-ton ZBD-05 amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) can be launched from the well deck. The 21-ton 8×8 ZBL-09 wheeled IFV and a new 30-ton light tank are better suited for carriage by assault hovercraft.
Chinese sources and models displayed at maritime trade shows suggest that China may follow the Type 071 with a 20,000-tonne class landing helicopter dock (LHD) similar to one offered for export. However, during a Chinese TV interview in November 2012, PLAN Rear Admiral Yin Zhou stated China’s future LHDs would be much larger, potentially approaching a displacement of 40,000 tonnes and similar in size to the US Navy’s LHDs.
The launch of three naval ships in one day from a single shipyard is highly unusual and reflects the continuing rapid pace of modernisation of the PLAN, particularly for surface warships. Nor does the pace appear likely to slacken with speculation that a fifth LPD is under construction and a sixth planned.
The construction of a fourth Type 071 demonstrates China’s commitment to expanding its amphibious assault capabilities. This class of ship could handily contribute to potential clashes over disputed islands in the East and South China seas.
China’s expected construction of LHDs, plus its anticipated construction of more aircraft carriers, also poin