Jane's Defence Weekly China launches second Type 071 amphibious assault ship Ted Parsons JDW Correspondent - Washington, DC China launched its second Type 071 landing ship dock amphibious assault ship from the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai on the night of 18 November. Internet images reveal minor cosmetic changes from the first Type 071's upper hull structure near the bridge but no discernible changes in its basic configuration, electronics or lightweight defensive weapon suite. The latter consists of one AK-176M 76 mm automatic gun on the foredeck, four AK-630 30 mm 'Gattling'-type close-in weapons systems (CIWS) and four Type 726 122 mm chaff/decoy launchers. It is not yet known if this new ship incorporates any improvements to powerplant, cargo handling capabilities or well deck. The first Type 071, named Kunlunshan 'Kunlun Mountains', was launched in December 2006: a year after its scheduled launch at the end of the 2000 to 2005 Five Year Planning period. Familiarity probably allowed the second Type 071 to meet its 2010 deadline. Earlier reports indicated the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) could purchase up to six Type 071s, although it is unclear whether there will now be an increase in its production rate or whether the PLAN will settle on a smaller number at the current production rate. A faster production rate is conceivable now that the first Type 071 has spent the remainder of the current Five Year Plan in outfitting, testing and building up to its first major deployment as part of the sixth anti-piracy mission to Somalia, which departed on 30 June. This mission saw the first deployment of the PLAN's new Yuyi-class landing craft air cushion, at least three of which can be carried in the Type 071's well deck. It is reasonable to expect that the second Type 071 will be commissioned at a faster pace and be available to help the Chinese government fulfil its ambitions to increase its regional presence and participation in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. These ambitions were illustrated in early November when PLAN marines held their first overseas exercises, visiting Thailand to hold drills with the Royal Thai Marine Corps. China's second Type 071 amphibious assault ship was launched from the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard on 18 November.