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04:06 PM, July 23, 2015
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China Debuts Zubr-Class Hovercraft In A Navy Drill
Ukraine-built “Zubr” amphibious hovercraft (also known as the “European bison”) (Image: Publicradioeast.org)

Chinese People’s Liberation Army navy debuted its "new-type" Zubr-class hovercraft in a recent drill.

The Ukraine-made hovercraft was set out for a landing exercise in mid-July by a squadron under the PLA navy’s South Sea fleet. Tens of amphibious combat vehicles sent by the assault force could not breach the defending force that used ‘effective measures’, China Central Television reported.

However, the new-type hovercraft successfully broke the defense and made a landing, the State broadcaster said, noting this is the first time the new craft had taken part in a drill.

The craft have strong carrying capacity, fast speed and a long range, according to CCTV.

PLA Daily said the drill accomplished its goal of testing combined landing tactics and maneuvers.

China's first Zubr LCAC hovercraft was built at the Feodosiya Shipbuilding Company in Ukraine and adapted to Chinese needs, according to a report on China Radio International.

The Zubr-class of military hovercraft is the world's largest. It is designed to sealift landing assault units, as well as to transport and plant mines, the CRI report said.

Development of Zubr landing ships started in the former Soviet Union in 1978, and the first serial ship joined the Soviet navy in 1988. It can carry three main battle tanks with an overall weight of 150 tons or 10 armored personnel carriers weighing up to 131 tons plus 140 marines, or eight infantry fighting vehicles weighing up to 115 tons. If not equipped with armor, Zubr is capable of carrying 366 men, CRI reported.

“The introduction of the Zubr-class craft would substantially improve the PLA navy's amphibious combat capability. With the craft's fast speed and strong firepower, it can ferry a large landing force to the shore within a short period, without suffering serious casualties or being delayed by naval mines or bad coastal conditions,” Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute was quoted as saying by China Daily.

"Its deployment enhances the PLA navy's ability to rapidly project power at sea, strengthening the nation's capability to safeguard its maritime interests," he said.

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