The Type 071 amphibious transport dock, or landing platform dock (LPD) was built by Shanghai-based Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard for the PLA Navy (PLAN). The first hull Kunlunshan (hull No.998) was launched on 22 December 2006 and commissioned by the PLAN South Sea Fleet on 30 November 2007. The ship is absed at Zhanjiang Naval Base in Guangdong Province.
The Type 071 LPD is the largest indigenously designed combat ship of the PLAN to date, with an estimated full displacement of 17,000~20,000 tonnes. The cargo capacity of the Type 071 is thought to be in the same range as the U.S. Navy Austin class LPD. If this estimation was correct, the Type 071 LPD can carry a marine corps battalion, including 500~800 troops, 15~20 amphibious armoured vehicles, and their associated logistic supplies.
The Type 071 LPD offers much increased sea lifting capacity and operational flexibility not possessed by the conventional tank landing ships (LST) in the current PLA Navy service. In a possible offensive operation to seize Taiwan, the Type 071 could be used to launch an amphibious assault from the Pacific side of the island, where the island’s defence is relatively weak. However, the Type 071’s role is not limited only to the Taiwan scenario. With its strong self-contain capability the LPD could operate far from friendly shores, projecting amphibious assets over distance of several thousand nautical miles. The plenty space onboard also allows additional communications equipments to be added for the ship to act as a fleet command and control centre in an amphibious operation.
In addition to traditional amphibious assault role, the Type 071 LPD could also be deployed for a whole range of non-traditional missions, for example, providing a sea-based platform for helicopters to send humanitarian aids to a disaster area and evacuate casualties and refugees from the area; or evacuating citizens from conflict zones.
The docking system is located at the stern of the ship. A floodable bay can embark air-cushioned landing craft, conventional landing craft, and amphibious vehicles. Flooding of the docking area is achieved by ballasting the stern of the ship, allowing the landing craft to float. Preliminary models of the class suggest that the Type 071 was designed to embark 4 air cushion landing crafts (LCAC).
A large helicopter flight deck at the stern is enough to support the operation of two medium-size helicopters such as Z-8/AS 321Ja Super Frelon. The same helicopter has also been operating from the PLA Navy’s Type 072-II Yuting class tank landing ship, carrying 30 armed troops to the landing zone behind the enemy line on the beach. It is also worth noting that a full-scale mockup of a co-axial design helicopter was spotted on the ship’s flight deck while it was under construction, indicating a Russian design such as Kamov Ka-29 was also considered.
The ship is equipped with a single-barrel 76mm main gun, which appears to be a copy of the Russian AK-176. The gun is located on the bow deck. There are four Russian-built AK-630 close-in weapon systems (CIWS).
The ship is also equipped with four 50-tube 120mm multi-purpose rocket launchers, which could provide large area firepower against shore targets.
Two Type 347G (one front, one rear) I-band radars provide fire-control for the 76mm main gun and four AK-630 CIWS. The air/surface search radar is the Type 360S E/F-band, mounted at the top of the forward mast.