The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) commissioned two new Type 056 Jiangdao–class corvettes — designated light missile frigates by the PLAN — at a naval port in Lianyungang in eastern-central China’s Jiangsu Province on December 12, according to China’s Ministry of Defense.
“Rear Admiral Cao Zhubing, deputy political commissar of the East China Sea Fleet, attended the ceremony and presented the navy ensign and naming certificate for the two new frigates respectively,” China Military Online reports.
The 1,300-ton Jiangdao–class, designed to replace Type 037 Hainan-class corvettes and obsolete 053H (Jianghu II through Jianghu V-class) surface warfare frigates from the 1970s, comes in two configurations — a basic multi-purpose as well as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variant.
Both variants feature four YJ-83 anti-ship missiles (two launchers with two missiles each), FL-3000N surface-to-air missiles carried in a single eight-cell launcher, a 76-millimeter main gun, and two 30 millimeter canons. Yet, whereas the basic type is equipped with a Type 347G (LR66) radar and a bow-mounted sonar, the ASW variant, dubbed Type 056A, features additional towed array and variable depth sonars.
Furthermore, both the basic and ASW variants are also equipped with two 324 millimeter triple torpedo launchers. In addition, the ship’s flight deck allows operation of a Harbin Z-9 military helicopter, but the corvette does not have a hanger for the aircraft limiting its operational capabilities. (Corvettes are suited for mid-range/littoral missions and are usually not deployed for major blue-water combat operations.)
The two ships commissioned on December 12 — the Baoding (hull number 511) and Heze (hull number 512) — are both of the basic Type 056 Jiangdao-class variant.
As I reported in November (See: “Sub Hunters in the South China Sea: China Launches 40th Stealth Frigate”):
The PLAN is in the middle of a massive modernization push and is rapidly expanding its naval forces. Only a month ago, the PLAN launched its 39th Jiangdao-class corvette at the Wuchang shipyard in Wuhan. This was preceded by the launch of two other vessels of the class in September at the Liaonan shipyard in Lushun.
The corvette launched on October 28 is the 12th to be built at the Huangpu shipyard. Three other Type56/056A Jiangdao-class corvettes are currently undergoing post-build sea trials or are in the process of being fitted out at the shipyard.
The PLAN reportedly plans for a fleet of up to 60 Jiangdao-class corvettes, with one new ship launched ever six weeks. Out of the 29 Jiangdao-class corvettes currently in service with the PLAN up to 14 are of the Type 056A ASW variant.