On May 11, the United States, Japan, France and Australia launched the Jeanne D’Arc 21 joint exercise (Jeanne D’Arc 21), and the French amphibious assault ship Thunder (L9014) arrived from the South China Sea at its base in Sasebo, Japan. The four countries will mainly simulate amphibious landing exercises in response to possible counterattack operations, with the Chinese Communist Party as the natural hypothetical enemy. What exactly is the level of the French amphibious assault ships participating in the exercise?
The United States has the most advanced and most amphibious assault ships in the world, with two American-class amphibious assault ships in service and seven Wasp-class ships, all above the 40,000-ton level; there are 23 dock landing ships of various types, mostly in the 25,000-ton class. France is actually the country that has built the most amphibious assault ships outside of the United States.
The United States has both amphibious assault ships and dock landing ships, mainly for large-scale Marine landings. The amphibious assault ships are the vanguard, and after capturing the beachhead, the dock landing ships support subsequent landings and provide additional equipment ashore. The previous amphibious assault ship fleet in the South China Sea, the USS Masing Island, included one amphibious assault ship and two dock landing ships. Other countries do not have the strength of the United States, can have the luxury of amphibious assault ships, no amphibious assault ships, dock landing ships are also considered good, just can not carry out air raids.
Amphibious assault ships generally have through-length decks that can provide at least several helicopter landing and takeoff operations for airborne troop drops. U.S. amphibious assault ships usually also carry six F-35B stealth fighters for skirmishes, naval battles or air raids, and can carry up to 20 F-35Bs when needed, transforming them into light carriers; they can also carry 22 V-22 rotary-wing helicopters for mass troop drops.
The French Northwest Wind-class amphibious assault ships have a full load displacement of 21,500 tons, roughly half that of their U.S. counterparts, and can carry 16 heavy or 35 light helicopters, with six helicopter landing positions on the long deck. In addition, the cabin can accommodate four landing craft, 70 combat vehicles and tanks, and carry up to 900 Marines with 69 sickbays.
Five Northwest Wind-class amphibious assault ships were built, with three in service with the French Navy and two once ordered by Russia. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, France suspended the contract and the latter 2 were sold to Egypt. France also currently has the most amphibious assault ships in service outside of the United States and has participated in numerous overseas operations.
Other countries with amphibious assault ships include: Spain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Egypt, and Brazil. China has just commissioned one, Turkey has launched one, and Russia is under construction.
Spain’s amphibious assault ship, which combines the dual functions of an amphibious assault ship and a light aircraft carrier, is equipped with a sliding takeoff deck on the bow, which can theoretically take off and land Sea Harrier or F-35B fighters.
The Juan Carlos class amphibious assault ships and improved version built 4 ships, 1 in the Spanish Navy, 2 improved Canberra class in the Australian Navy, another sold to Turkey, has been launched, Turkey build another one by itself.
Japan’s Izumo-class helicopter frigates, with a displacement of 27,000 tons and two in service, can carry up to 28 helicopters, and their main mission is anti-submarine; they can also carry 400 soldiers and 50 combat vehicles; they are currently modifying their decks to carry F-35B fighters, and will soon function as light carriers.
Japan also has two Hyuga-class helicopter frigates, which also have through-length decks, a displacement of 19,000 tons, and can accommodate 18 helicopters, also mainly for anti-submarine, and can actually be converted into amphibious assault ships. Japan’s constitution does not allow for troop attacks and does not have a large marine force, but with the increasing provocations and threats from the Chinese Communist Party, Japan will likely be forced to make changes.
South Korea’s Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship is a stealthy design with a displacement of 19,500 tons and can carry 15 helicopters, seven landing craft, up to 200 combat vehicles, and 720 marines. South Korea is also considering F-35B fighters.
China’s Type 075 amphibious assault ship, the first of which has just been commissioned, has a full load displacement of 40,000 tons, but its biggest flaw is its helicopters and lack of experience in amphibious landing operations. The Chinese Communist Party has copied helicopter technology everywhere, but it has not been able to fully pass the test, and is allegedly ready to purchase from Russia.
Italy’s Trieste-class amphibious assault ship, with a full load displacement of 33,000 tons, combines the functions of a light aircraft carrier and an amphibious assault ship and is expected to enter service in 2022; it can carry up to 15 F-35B fighter jets and other helicopters, as well as landing craft, hovercraft, combat vehicles and about 600 soldiers.
Brazil has purchased a decommissioned British amphibious assault ship, HMS Atlantic. The British aircraft carrier functions as an amphibious assault ship, and no further specialized amphibious assault ships are being built. Russia’s 23,900 amphibious assault ship, currently under construction.
Although the amphibious assault ship is not as large as the aircraft carrier, but the cost is also not expensive. The U.S. American-class amphibious assault ships cost $3 billion each, and the previous Wasp-class cost $750 million each; France’s Northwest Wind-class cost about 450 million euros (about $600 million); Spain’s Juan Carlos-class cost about 460 million euros; Australia’s Canberra-class cost about A$1.55 billion (about $1.2 billion); Japan’s Izumo-class cost about $1.04 billion; and South Korea’s Dokdo-class cost about 650 billion. The CCP’s 075 is estimated to have cost at least billions of yuan.
These cost prices vary by era or are difficult to compare with each other, but they are all considered astronomical warships, so it is no wonder that countries do not dare to build them easily, and the maintenance and operation costs after service will be a large sum of money. France’s Thunderbolt from France, after entering the Indo-Pacific region, has stopped in India, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, in addition to funding, but also need to have the support of allies around the world, otherwise only rely on transport ships resupply, simply can not be far away from the battle.