China Maritime Report No. 17: The PLA Army’s New Helicopters: An “Easy Button” for Crossing the Taiwan Strait?

China Maritime Studies Institute – This report examines the potential roles and missions of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) new rotary wing capabilities in a cross-strait invasion. Looking specifically at the helicopter units of the PLA Army (PLAA), it discusses two possible scenarios in which these forces could serve as the main thrust in a campaign to seize control of Taiwan. In the first scenario, the PLAA would use nearly all of its rotary wing inventory simultaneously to overwhelm Taiwan’s defenses and quickly convince the country’s political leadership to surrender. In a second “unconventional” scenario, the PLAA would risk the destruction of older helicopters in order to launch a sudden attack against the island, thereby achieving the element of surprise while saving its most capable platforms for lengthy follow-on operations to fully subdue the island. Based on analysis of the scale, complexity, and frequency of recent PLAA exercises, this report argues that China is at best a decade away from having the ability to seize Taiwan by either approach.

China Built A Mothership For Training Its Forces To Defend Against Drone Swarms

War Zone – China looks to have launched an odd mini-aircraft carrier of sorts that is intended to launch and recover small aerial drones earlier this year. A model of this catamaran vessel appeared at this year’s Zhuhai Airshow, where it was ostensibly described as a platform for mimicking enemy “electronic” systems during training exercises. This ship will be able to simulate hostile drone swarms, along with other kinds of threats, such as high-volume anti-ship missile strikes and distributed electronic warfare attacks. It also reflects the Chinese military’s interest in operational swarming capabilities, and especially in the maritime domain.

Signs Point to China’s Third Aircraft Carrier Launching Soon

CSIS – Steady progress on the construction of China’s third aircraft carrier has continued throughout 2021, and the vessel—commonly known as the Type 003—may launch in the coming months. Commercial satellite imagery of Jiangnan Shipyard captured on October 23, 2021, reveals that the installation of the carrier’s main external components is nearing completion. Work on other military vessels at Jiangnan appears to have slowed as the shipyard works to fill commercial orders.