Chinese news portal Global News China reported that the test results show that all of the ship’s performance parameters of the Type 071E meet or exceed the contractually stipulated requirements, which has been warmly welcomed by Thai officials.
Thailand signed a contract with China for the procurement of a Type 071E landing platform dock (LPD) on September 9, 2019. The amphibious vessel is based on the Type 071. The deal was reported to cost only Bt6.1 billion (200 million USD).
The vessel is known as HTMS Chang (III)” ‘ช้าง’ means ‘elephant’ but it is also the name of an island in Thailand where a major Royal Thai Navy battle took place. The Battle of Ko Chang took place on 17 January 1941. Thai Navy Landing ships and auxiliary ships are named after Islands of Thailand and Type 071E “HTMS Chang (III)” is the third ship to bear this name.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) currently has eight vessels of the Type 071 class commissioned in its fleet. Thailand is the first export customer of the class.
Originally designed after the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, Type 071 is 210 meters long and 28 meters wide. It is capable of carrying 800 marines (1 battalion) and some 20 amphibious vehicles.
For amphibious warfare, the Type 071’s well deck may deploy at least two Type 726 / Type 726A, a Chinese LCAC of approximately 150 tonnes. Each LCAC is designed to deploy a battle tank (ZTZ-96A for example). The ship is also fitted with two large hangars and a flight deck, where two Z-8J helicopters can be operated simultaneously. The ship is fitted with one 76 mm gun and four 30 mm close-in weapon systems.
Thailand previously ordered a single S26T diesel electric submarine (SSK) from China’s shipbuilding industry as part of a government-to-government contract signed in 2017. The first steel cut for the first submarine took place on September 5, 2019.