A new footage from CCTV, the Chinese state TV broadcaster, has revealed the images of People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) deploying its Zubr landing craft air cushion (LCAC) in an exercise in South China Sea.
The exercise took place on Hainan Island, known to be the base of Chinese Navy's South Sea Fleet, IHS Jane's reported.
The exercise was conducted as a part of amphibious landing drill in the South China Sea, a region that has seen tensions rise between the neighbours due to the overlapping claims and China's land reclamation in these atolls and islands that have been contested by Vietnam and Philippines.
The Zubr LCACs, known as "Bison hovercraft" in Chinese media, were seen being transported and unloaded from Donghaidao, a heavy-lift ship of PLAN. A closer observation from the website revealed that these LCACs were carrying PLA Type 99 main battle tank (MBT).
The Zubr-class LCAC has the capacity to carry three main battle tanks or 10 armoured vehicles with 230 troops or eight armoured personnel carriers or eight amphibious tanks. It has a top speed of 60 knots and a range of 300 nautical miles. The craft has a standard full load displacement of 555 tons, making it the largest in its class, as of 2012.
China had ordered the crafts from Ukraine in 2009.
India, China's neighbour with which it has a land border issue, too uses hovercrafts but of lesser displacement. Indian Coast Guard makes use of 8000TD hovercraft from UK-based manufacturer Griffon Hoverwork. Currently, there are 18 such crafts that displace 27 tonnes and have a range of 365/42.
In comparison, Pakistan uses even lighter-weight hovercraft built by the same Griffon Hoverwork, the 2000TD hovercraft that will displace 6.8 tons. The Pakistani Navy currently has 12 such crafts.