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This is China's response to the US Navy's struggling coastal warship program


The USS Freedom, the first ship in the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship class, is underway Monday, July 28, 2008. China has now launched its own Littoral ship.


U.S. Navy

The fact that China's been building up its military with speed and agility recently is nothing new, but Beijing is now going head-to-head with one of the US Navy's most troubled programs.

The Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is meant to be part of the fleet being moved to the Pacific, and though a couple versions of the ship were put to sea four years ago, the program is still beset by problems and nowhere near combat ready.

Michael Fabey at Aviation Week acquired Navy documents that show the following components had issues on the LCS USS Freedom's recent voyage:

Heat, flame, smoke and flood alarms; hydraulic power unit systems, airborne mission zone lift hoist and platform; lifting capstan; gypsy winch; oily water separator and transfer pump; reverse osmosis system; watertight doors, degaussing system, gas-turbine intake plenum space; and blow-in doors.

The ship also appears to be minus one of its four engines, upon which repair and reassembly work was started this month, according to the documents.

This is a ship that's been in service for four years, cost over $600 million dollars, and is still having trouble performing basic functions — and now China has launched a littoral ship of its own.

Christian Le Miere at Naval Forces and Maritime Security reports Beijing put its first Type 056 craft into the water a few weeks ago where it will become part of a four-ship team patrolling China's coast.

Apart from looking very similar to the US LCS, the 056 will have stealth characteristics and carry some impressive weaponry like Type 87 anti-submarine rockets, AK-176 Russian 76 mm gun systems, and C-803 anti-ship missiles.

It's these ships that China may look to when enforcing the exclusive economic zones in the country's territorial waters. 

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