Satellite imagery captured on 10 April of the Jiangnan Changxingdao shipyard in Shanghai appears to show a modified Luyang III (Type 052D)-class destroyer under construction featuring a flight deck that has been extended by 4 m: a possible indication that China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is preparing for the introduction of a new, larger helicopter to operate from this class of vessel.
DigitalGlobe imagery showing a Type 052D destroyer under construction at the Jiangnan Changxingdao shipyard near Shanghai. The ship has a 24 m flight deck: 4 m longer than previous Type 052D hulls. (2018 DigitalGlobe, Inc/2018 IHS Markit)
The PLAN has a pressing need for a new multirole helicopter. Its current inventory largely comprises the Harbin Aviation Industry Group (HAIG) Z-9, which is derived from the Aerospatiale Dauphin; the Kamov Ka-28 ‘Helix’, and the Changhe Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) Z-8, which is derived from the Aerospatiale Super Frelon.