The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has inducted two Type 056/056A Jiangdao-class corvettes into service this month.
The two new warships, Guangyuan (hull number 552) and Suining (hull number 551), were commissioned on November 16 and 28 respectively at a naval base in Guangzhou, Guangdong province in southern China. Both vessels will serve in the PLAN’s South Sea Fleet, the force responsible for Chinese naval operations in the South China Sea.
The Type 056 Jiangdao-class has been designated by the PLAN as light missile frigates. There are currently two types of Jiangdao-class ships in service with the Chinese Navy: a multi-purpose and a specialized anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variant. The Guangyuan and Suining are of the latter kind and feature specialized equipment including towed and variable depth sonars in addition to the standard fit that I outlined previously:
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.
However, “the corvette does not feature a helicopter hangar suggesting that it will be difficult to permanently station a helicopter with airborne dipping sonar aboard a Type 056A corvette,” I noted. ASW remains one of the top priorities of the PLAN and the service aims to rapidly improve its capabilities in the field.
Type 056A corvettes have been designed for patrol and escort operations in the exclusive economic zones of China within 200 nautical miles from the Chinese coastline. According to a Chinese Ministry of Defense statement quoted by Navy Recognition:
Type 056 Corvettes are new-generation light guided missile frigates independently developed by China. It has a length of 89 meters, a beam of 11 meters and a full-load displacement of 1,500 tons.
The warship, independently developed, designed and constructed by China, is equipped with a variety of weapons and equipment, and is featured by good stealth performance, strong compatibility, and a wide range of applications of advanced technologies.
After commissioned to the PLAN, the warship[s] will perform such missions as patrolling, alert, fishery protection, escort, antisubmarine operation and anti-surface operation.
The PLAN reportedly aims to build a fleet of up to 60 Type 056/056A Jiangdao-class corvettes with one new ship launched ever six weeks. This year alone, the PLAN has commissioned seven Jiangdao-class corvettes (all of the Type 056 ASW variant) into service. Four more corvettes are expected to be commissioned in December and January alone.
Overall, the PLAN operates a total of 37 Type 056/056A Jiangdao-class corvettes.