Ukrainian Know-How Used to Build Chinese Naval Power – Part 2

A docked Ukraine-built 'Zubr' amphibious hovercraft.

Ukraine sold four Bison-class military air-cushion vehicles, also known as hovercraft, to the Chinese Communist Party. (Image: Times Asi via Flickr)

In Part 1, we discussed Chinese naval power and discovered that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s aircraft carrier Liaoning, along with their first J-15 carrier-based aircraft the QC280 gas turbine and subsequent warships, all originated from Ukrainian technology and know-how.

Chinese naval power came from Ukraine

In addition to the above, the CCP purchased four Bison-class military air-cushion vehicles or hovercraft from Ukraine. The Bison hovercraft is a monster, with a full load displacement of 555 tons, and it can carry three Type 96 main battle tanks of more than 40 tons each, or eight armored personnel carriers, or 10 armored vehicles. If it is used purely to carry troops, it can carry up to 360 marines at any one time.

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The Bison hovercraft can reach a maximum speed of 60 knots and uses a gas turbine engine that can generate about 10,000 horsepower (HP). For the CCP, the Bison hovercraft was an important weapon in its battle plans across the Taiwan Strait, and the CCP also secured a complete set of drawings along with the Bison hovercraft.

With the technical support of the Bison hovercraft, the CCP developed the Type 726 hovercraft, which was constructed by Jiangnan Shipyard and still uses the UGT 6000 gas turbine from Ukraine. However, there remains a big gap in its performance compared to the original Bison hovercraft. The load displacement is just more than 50 tons, which is almost one-tenth of the Bison hovercraft, and it can carry only one main battle tank.

Much of the Chinese naval power is owed to Ukraine.
The Type 726 hovercraft was constructed by Jiangnan Shipyard and still uses the UGT 6000 gas turbine from Ukraine. (Image: Massimiliano Leban via Dreamstime)

More than thirty Type 726 hovercrafts are speculated to be in service at this time. The Type 726 air cushion landing craft is used in conjunction with the Type 071 dock landing ship for the CCP’s amphibious operations. If there is a war in the Taiwan Strait in the future, they will be the main force of the vanguard.

Ukraine sold four Bison hovercraft and related technical materials at the lowest price, allowing the CCP to develop its own hovercraft.

In the field of engines, the diesel engine used in the Al-Khalid main battle tank developed by China for Pakistan is also from Ukraine, and the engine A-I222 used by the CCP’s own advanced training aircraft L-15 Falcon is also from them.

Y-8 transport aircraft designed with Ukraine’s help

For the CCP’s Air Force, the Y-8, the Chinese large size range transport aircraft was designed with the help of Ukraine. The Y-8 was originally copied from the Soviet Antonov An-12 transport aircraft made there. An-12 is an old aircraft developed in the 1950s, and its performance is relatively poor in all aspects.

In 2002, the CCP and Ukraine Antonov Design Bureau signed a contract of cooperation to redesign the Y-8 airplane head, navigator cockpit, replace the integrated flight instrument system, replace the engine, and improve the fuel tank layout, which greatly improved the performance of the Y-8.

Aerial refueling technology originated from Ukraine

It goes on: The CCP’s aerial refueling technology also originated from Ukraine. In the 1990s, the CCP wanted to purchase the Il-78 aerial refueling tanker from Russia, but the Russian price was said to be too expensive. The CCP turned to Ukraine to purchase four used Il-78 aerial refueling tankers, and also the refueling hose method for the first time. On this basis, Yunyou-20 was finally developed.

A refueling tanker airplane sits on the runway.
The CCP’s aerial refueling technology also originated from Ukraine. (Image: Vitaly Kuzmin via Wikimedia Commons)

After the CCP introduced Su-27 and Su-30 aircraft in the 1990s, it also procured a large number of Soviet-era air-to-air missiles, such as R27 and R77. However, after the J-11 experience, Russia was worried about the CCP’s pirating of its technology, and was not very cooperative in the supply of missile spare parts. At this time, Ukraine helped the CCP again and provided the CCP with a large number of missile spare parts.

With the infrastructure left by the Soviet Union, Ukraine’s help for the CCP in terms of engines, aerospace, and naval technology was extremely huge, although it may have done little to help the CCP in terms of army ground forces. After the June 4 massacre in 1989, the CCP encountered an international technological blockade. Russia was always wary of the CCP’s duplicity and refused to provide the most advanced weapons. Against such a background, Ukraine, which had the technology but little money, became a vulnerable target of the CCP’s poaching. Key technologies such as aircraft carriers, carrier-based aircraft, aircraft engines, marine engines, and hovercraft were all imported from or designed there.

Without Ukraine, the CCP would not have its own aircraft carrier technology, carrier-based aircraft technology, warship engine technology, or hovercraft technology. It can be said that without them, there would be no Chinese naval power.

Ukraine has given so much help to the CCP over the past few decades, and now the Ukrainian people are in crisis. But what has the CCP done to help them out?

Translated by Chua BC

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