The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) recently commissioned the 42nd and 43rd Type 056/056A Jiangdao-class corvettes into service, according to local media reports.
The two ships have reportedly been named Bazhong (pennant number 625) and Shuozhou (610). China’s Ministry of National Defense has not officially acknowledged the commissioning of the latest Type 056A surface combatants.
The ceremony for Shuozhuo took place on December 10 at an undisclosed PLAN’s East Sea Fleet base on December 10, while the Bazhong was inducted into service at an undisclosed South Sea Fleet naval base on 5 November.
Based on calculations by IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, the Bazhong and Shuozhuo are the 42nd and 43d Type 056/056A surface combatants to enter service with the PLAN.
The 41st Type 056/056A corvette, Nanchong, was commissioned at a naval port in Guangdong province in Southern China in the beginning of June.
Prior to that, the Type 056/56A corvette Wuhai was put into service at a naval port in the city of Dalian in China’s Liaoning province on January 16.
The PLAN reportedly aims for a fleet of over 70 Type 056/056A Jiangdao-class corvettes, about half of which are fitted for ASW operations.
As IHS Jane’s notes in analysis, there has been a noticeable slowdown in the launching and commissioning of Type 056/056A corvettes, designated by the PLAN as light missile frigates.
“The reasons for the increased interval between launch and commissioning is unknown but might be related to a shortage of suitably skilled technicians to set equipment to work, delays in the supply of equipment or a reduced pace to smooth out expenditure peaks in the naval construction budget,” according to IHS Jane’s.
Type 056/056A corvettes have been designed and built for patrol and escort operations in the exclusive economic zones of China within 200 nautical miles from the Chinese coastline.
The corvettes are built in two variants, a multi-purpose Type 056 and a specialized anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variant Type 056A, which is equipped with variable depth sonars used for detecting and tracking submarines.
As I reported elsewhere, Type 056/056A corvettes are multipurpose platforms principally designed to conduct surface warfare operations in the littoral region:
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 (…). The ship’s flight deck also allows operation of a Harbin Z-9 military helicopter, specifically equipped for ASW missions.
Additionally, I noted:
[T]he ship does not have a helicopter hangar to permanently carry a Z-9 fitted with an airborne dipping sonar for ASW missions. Given the ships’ deployment close to shore, this could possibly be addressed by close coordination between the surface combatants and PLANs growing fleet of land-based ASW aircraft like the Gaoxin-6.
Each corvette has a length of 89 meters, a beam of 11 meters, and a full-load displacement of around 1,500 tons. A total of four shipyards are involved in building the class.