Expert: U.S. amphibious assault ship in East China Sea to pressure China

Source: China Military OnlineEditor: Zhang Tao
2016-08-19 21:26

An MV-22 Osprey, assigned to the Flying Tigers of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262, lands on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).

BEIJING, August 18 (ChinaMil) –The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard was patrolling around the East China Sea on August 14. In an interview with CCTV program Focus Today, a military expert said the U.S. Navy sent USS Bonhomme Richard to the East China Sea to manifest its capability of maintaining frontline presence and to pressure China.

It is reported that the USS Bonhomme Richard aims to temper its all-weather combat capability in unfamiliar sea and airspace and complicated electromagnetic environment by patrolling waters around the East China Sea.

CCTV reported that according to the U.S. Navy, the USS Bonhomme Richard set out from its home port Sasebo in west Japan's Nagasaki for a combat patrol in the west Pacific and sailed southward all the way to the East China Sea.

Bonhomme Richard is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship of the U.S. Navy with the displacement of up to 40,000 tons. It is able to serve as an aircraft carrier for the ability to support landing operation and execute missions to control command of the sea.

Military expert Cao Weidong introduced that Bonhomme Richard's full-length flight deck can accommodate six to eight fixed-wing aircraft such as F-35B and will play a critical role in the fight for air command.

The ship is also able to accommodate 12 Osprey Tiltrotors and transport troops and its dock cabin can carry three hovercrafts for landing operation. Amphibious assault ship is inferior to aircraft carrier group in combat capability, so the appearance of Bonhomme Richard in the East China Sea is mainly to manifest the U.S. Navy's capability of maintaining frontline presence, Cao stressed.

Du Wenlong, a senior researcher at the PLA Academy of Military Science, said Wasp-class amphibious assault ship hardly ever appears in East China Sea waters, and its high-profile appearance this time is primarily to put pressure on China.

According to the new Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation issued in May 2015, the two signatories incorporated the so-called off-islands including Diaoyu Dao into their defense scope. Once something happened in that region, America's maritime strike capability and amphibious combat forces are likely to be key weapons for seizing the islands.

The U.S. also wants to take this opportunity to bolster the Republic of Korea (ROK) and put pressure on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). More importantly, Du continued, the U.S. Navy wants to expand the scope of its activities from "the blue ocean" to "the brown" near-shore land of other countries in order to achieve its strategic intention of enhancing its coast attack and control capability against other countries.

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