The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has reportedly inducted a new 4,000-ton Type 054A Jiangkai II-class guided-missile frigate into service on January 12, according to China Military Online.
The commissioning ceremony of the new Jiangkai II-class warship, christened Rizhao (with pennant number 598), took place at a naval shipyard in China’s Liaoning Province. (The PLANs first domestically designed and developed aircraft carrier, the Type 001A (CV-17) Shandong, was launched in April 2017 at the same shipyard in April 2017.)
The new frigate, reportedly the 26th ship of the class to enter service with the PLAN, was built at the Guangzhou Huangpu Shipyard in Guangdong Province. (Other ships of the class are built at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai, where the 29th Jiangkai II-class guided-missile frigate was launched in December 2017.)
The Rizhao, launched in April of last year, is expected to enter service with the PLANs North Sea Fleet. According to a cost estimate published in The Diplomat, the per unit price of a Type 054A guided-missile frigate is estimated at around $348 million.
Type 054A Jiangkai II-class frigates are multirole warships with some of the later variants, beginning with the 17th unit, fitted with variable depth sonar and towed array sonar for anti-submarine warfare operations. As I noted before, the ships of the class also have anti-surface capabilities and are capable of defending against aerial threats:
The stealth frigate is armed with HQ-16 medium range air defense missiles and boosts a 32-cell vertical launching system (VLS) in the forward section, capable of firing anti-ship and air defense missiles as well as anti-submarine torpedoes. It also features a Russian-made AK-630 fully automatic naval close in weapon system and a Chinese variant of the AK-176 76 millimeter naval gun.
(…) In addition, the ship is equipped with a Type 382 phased-array radar system and Type 344 and Type 345 multifunctional fire control radar systems, capable of over the horizon targeting.
Type 054A frigates also feature a hangar capable of accommodation Kamov K-27 and Harbin Z-9 helicopters or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). (…) The ship has a standard range of about 3,800 nautical miles—7,037 kilometers–at a speed of 18 knots, and a maximum un-refueled radius is 12,000 kilometers or 8,000 miles.
The ship’s top speed is estimated at around 27 knots. Type 054A frigates have been deployed for anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden since 2009 and participated in bilateral and multilateral maritime exercises. Ships of the class are also conducted patrols in the South China Sea.
As I noted in December 2017, Type 054A frigates are seen as an intermediary design with Chinese naval engineers already working on an improved 5,000-ton variant, the Type 054B or Jiangkai III-class guided-missile frigate, expected to be commissioned in 2018.