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China Launches 3 New Stealth Warships

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China Launches 3 New Stealth Warships

China’s corvette construction program continues.

China Launches 3 New Stealth Warships
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/樱井千一

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has reportedly launched three additional Type Type56/056A Jiangdao-class corvettes.

One of the corvettes — designated light missile frigates by the PLAN — was launched at the Wuchang shipyard in Wuhan, whereas the remaining two vessels were launched at the Liaonan shipyard in Lushun, according to information obtained by IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly.

All three ships were launched over the last few weeks.

“The latest of the vessels was launched at the Wuchang shipyard in Wuhan around 3 October and is the 39th of the class to enter the water,” IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly reports.

“On 19 June satellite imagery showed the two other corvettes under construction in a dry dock at the Liaonan shipyard in Lushun. By early October photographs of the fitting-out berths in the yard showed that the ships had been launched and that the installation of sensors, antennas, and missile launchers was continuing with the ships afloat.”

The PLAN currently is operating a total of 27 Type 056A Jiangdao-class corvettes. In June, the 26th Jiangdao-class corvette, christened Qujing (pennant number 508), joined the PLAN’s South Sea Fleet and is expected to be deployed to the disputed Paracel Islands (See: “China Commissions New ‘Submarine Killer’ Warship for South China Sea”). The classification of the ship as a Type 056A corvette suggests that the Qujing is an anti-submarine warfare variant of the ship class.

It is unclear whether any of the ships launched in the last weeks will be Type  056A variants. (Around 14 corvettes have enhanced ASW capabilities.) As I explained elsewhere:

Next to four YJ-83 anti-ship missiles (two launchers with two missiles each) and a 76-millimeter main gun, the ASW variant is also equipped with two 324 millimeter triple torpedo launchers, as well as variable depth and towed sonars. The ship’s flight deck also allows operation of a Harbin Z-9 military helicopter, specifically equipped for ASW missions.

According to IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, one Type 056 Jiangdao-class corvette is launched ever six weeks indicating the high production rate of PLAN surface warships:

 Twelve ships of the class are currently being fitted out or undergoing pre-commissioning trials at the four shipyards involved in their construction: three each at Liaonan, Wuchang, Hudong, and Huangpu.Fitting out and sea trials for these ships takes around 12 months, so four of these are likely to enter service before the end of the year.

The first Type 056 Jiangdao-class corvette was only launched in May 2012. All in all, the PLAN plans to induct 60 new corvettes in the years ahead.