Marines: December 14, 2004

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China is apparently building a large quantity of amphibious shipping. Two LSDs (Landing Ship Dock) are being built in large covered sheds. They appear to be about 25,000 tons each and carry four LCAC (high speed landing craft) and four helicopters each. China is building 4-5 LSTs (Landing Ship Tank) a year. These are 4,800 tons displacement each and can carry about 2,000 tons if they are not going to run up on a beach. The Chinese prefer to avoid that, as it eventually destroys the LST, and you can carry more load if you don't. A larger number of LSMs (smaller than LSTs, but in this case almost as large as World War II LSTs) are also under construction. Large numbers of smaller landing craft are also being built, all of it apparently capable of making the 300 kilometer trip from the mainland to Taiwan. China wont say what the eventual size of this amphibious fleet will be, but Taiwan suspects enough to land enough divisions on Taiwanese beaches to hold them. That could take another 3-4 years. It is believed that the Chinese would use a lot of civilian transport for an attack on Taiwan, meaning they could put up to nine divisions on ships. The navy's amphibious shipping would be used for the first wave, where speed is needed. But the next waves could be put ashore with civilian ferries and transports. In addition, there is an airborne division. It would be a rather ramshackle effort by American standards, but the Chinese believe it would be adequate against the Taiwanese. The key to such an invasion is keeping the U.S. Navy out of the war. 

Meanwhile, Chinese shipyards are also turning out submarines and surface warships. China will be able to make a serious move on Taiwan before 2010.

 


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