Greek government has given the green light for the Hellenic Navy to sell its four Russian-built Zubr landing ships to China, Hong Kong newspaper reported.
At more than five hundred tons, the Zubr is the world's largest hovercraft. The massive ships can carry up to three tanks and at least 300 troops over hundreds of miles of ocean, and can also lay mines.
The People's Liberation Army Navy already operates several Zubrs, with the most recent vessel delivered from Ukraine several weeks ago. Chinese units differ from the Russian originals, featuring a stealthy version of the AK-630 cannon, a Type 364 search radar, and the locally-produced OFC-3 optical fire control device.
Hellenic Navy staff spokesman Kleftos Priapos confirmed the sale in an interview.
"As the Zubrs were all constructed in either Russia or Ukraine, the sale of these hovercraft does not violate any current NATO rules against arms transfers to China," said Priapos in response to questions from Filipino reporters. "This is a perfectly legal transfer, and besides, we need the funds."
Priapos cut short the interview after several Filipino reporters became visibly agitated, sources report. It cannot be confirmed whether Priapos forcibly ejected the reporters for "rubbing him the wrong way" with aggresive questioning, as YouTube commentators have claimed.
Reports of the sale have alarmed many in the Philippines, which is embroiled in a fractious territorial row with China over the disputed Spratley Islands. Filipino troops are still involved in a rigid standoff with the Chinese military on the tiny Scarborough Shoal, which both countries claim.
Chinese military officials declined to release a statement, but reports indicate that the first of the newly purchased Zubrs, numbered 1337 (formerly the Zakynthos), will be delivered at the end of this year.