China Building One Corvette Warship Every Six Weeks
China's naval warship building program shows no signs of slowing down and Chinese shipyards continue to churn out new warships at a prodigious pace.
Three more Type 056 corvettes (Jiangdao-class) were launched in September and October, bringing to 39 the total number of corvettes in the People's Liberation Army Navy Surface Force (PLANSF), and making this class the most numerous surface warships in the navy.
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Of this total, 27 are in active service patrolling littoral or near shore waters off the Chinese mainland. PLANSF plans to have at least 60 of these small but heavily armed warships with most being equipped for surface warfare (Type 056) and the rest for anti-submarine warfare (Type 056A).
Chinese media reports that 12 corvettes are currently being fitted-out or undergoing pre-commissioning trials. This process takes about 12 months to complete, meaning PLANSF should receive four more ships before the year ends.
Chinese shipyards at Liaonan, Wuchang, Hudong and Huangpu are turning out corvettes at the rate of one every six weeks, an impressive record. The new warships will be distributed among PLAN's South Sea, East Sea and North Sea Fleets. A number of Type 056s are also being built for the China Coast Guard.
The Type 056 are the smallest principal surface combatants in the PLAN. They're replacing the large numbers of missile boats, submarine chasers and gunboats patrolling China's extensive littoral waters.
They do, however, have a limited blue water capability but their seaworthiness is suspect. The ships have a range of 3,500 nautical miles and displace 1,500 tons. They feature a stealthy hull design with sloped surfaces and reduced superstructure clutter.
It's their armament that makes them noteworthy. Each corvette is armed with four YJ-83 sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missiles in two twin-cell launchers. The primary anti-aircraft armament is one eight-cell FL-3000N short range surface-to-air missile launcher.
A 76 mm main gun based on a Russian AK-176 is mounted forward. Two triple torpedo tubes are mounted for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations.
Type 056 is being built in a variety of versions for offshore patrols, ASW, anti-surface warfare, anti-air warfare, coast guard and command. It even has an export version and ships of this type have been supplied to Bangladesh and Nigeria.