China releases details of a new stealth missile frigate. It’s part of a military modernization process amid ongoing tensions over Beijing's maritime claims in the region.
The first ship of the Type 056 Jiangdao class frigates was handed over to China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in Shanghai, home to one of the country's largest naval shipyards.
The stealth frigate Number 586 is a new design with sloped
surfaces made as clean as possible, it also has reduced
superstructure clutter. It features advanced technologies that will
make it harder to detect by radar, visual, sonar, and infrared
methods, the Chinese navy said at their website.
China's brand new vessel is armed with a 76-mm main gun based on the Russian AK-176 and 30-mm remote weapon systems. The main anti-ship armament consists of YJ-83 sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missiles in two twin-cell launchers. The primary anti-aircraft armament is one FL-3000N short range missile system with eight rounds. The ship is fitted with a helicopter deck at the stern but has no organic helicopter support facilities.
At 1,440 tons fully loaded, this frigate cruises at an estimated 28 knots and has about a 2,000 nautical mile range.
It is considerably smaller than US Navy frigates, about 95.5 meters in length, and is categorized as smaller class of ships known as corvettes.
The ship requires a crew of just 60, one-third the number needed for it its predecessor the Type 053H3 frigate. This brings advantages in efficiency, easier training and recruitment.
Nineteen more frigates of the class are planned to be built for the PLA Navy.
The Type 056 class frigate fleet will boost the PLAN’s ability to defend its territory by patrolling and guarding the waters. It will have the ability to conduct anti-submarine operations and operations against all marine targets.
PLAN forces entered “the new era of mass-production and upgrade in an orderly manner” officials say on the PLAN's website.
The naval renovation comes as Chinese and Japanese vessels have stalked each other for months around the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Last flare-up was at the end of January when a Chinese frigate allegedly locked its weapon-targeting radar on a Japanese vessel, according to the Japan’s Defense Ministry. In the past six months, Chinese frigates have been constantly spotted in the waters of the disputed islands.
China has the second-largest defense spending program in the world after the US and followed by Russia according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
China has also been working on a new generation stealth aircraft. Flight tests of the twin-engine Falcon Eagle were carried out in northeastern China last October.
The Chinese navy now has about 80 major surface warships including its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was based on the Soviet ship the ‘Varyag’. After the Soviet Union collapsed the ‘Varyag’ ended up in Ukraine. In 1998 China bought it without an engine or weapons and spent years refurbishing it for research and training purposes.
The Pentagon estimates China also deploys more than 50 submarines, about 50 landing ships and more than 80 missile attack boats, Reuters reports.