China Shipbuilding Group is planning to build an advanced amphibious assault ship to boost the Chinese marines’ ability to hit targets on land and at sea.

According to a report of South China Morning Post, the new Type 076 warfare ships are expected to be similar in design to the Type 075 vessel, but will feature an electromagnetic catapult launch system.

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This launch system will be used on the currently under-construction next generation Type 002 advanced aircraft carrier vessel. China expects to launch the first Type 002 aircraft carrier in 2021.

The upgraded design of a more powerful proposed assault ship will mean that it will be able to accommodate up to 30 helicopters, rotor-wing drones, hovercraft, amphibious tanks, armoured vehicles, boats, hundreds of marine troops for land attacks, and follow-up operations on the ground.

Once in service, the vessel will enhance the country’s ability to attack ships and land-based targets from the high seas.

Contractor China Shipbuilding Group is yet to receive approvals for the plan from the government.

Work on the new assault vessel is expected to take at least five years.

The proposed vessel is likely to have a displacement of about 40,000t.

This vessel will be the world’s third largest amphibious assault ship after US Wasp-class and America class vessels, and the country’s first.

China has been strengthening its military in recent years and has launched five amphibious assault ships since 2016.

The country launched its second Type 075 LHD in April, but these vessels are yet to enter service.

Naval commentator Li Jie was quoted by the Hong Kong-based publication as saying that there were technological challenges in integrating electromagnetic catapult technology with Type 075 design.

Jie said: “Only when the new Type 002 aircraft carrier finishes testing the three electromagnetic catapult can we make sure it’s a mature technology that could be applied on the flight deck of the Type 075.

“Indeed, the full development of the Type 076 will only be finalised when China successfully develops the first stealth carrier-based fighter jet, as well as other variants of stealth drones.”