Surface Forces: China Makes It Last


February 10, 2011:  China has upgraded the last six Type 053 frigates built, apparently in order keep them in service for another decade or more. Originally built in the 1990s, the six Type 053H1G ships were the last of 53 built over about twenty years. Based on the older Russian Riga class frigate, the Chinese expanded the original 1,400 ton Riga  (armed with depth charges, three 100mm guns and torpedoes) design, to a missile laden 2,500 ton vessel equipped with modern electronics. The latest versions, called the F-22, is built only for export. The primary customer is Pakistan.  The remaining Type 53s are mainly used for coastal patrol.

Four years after placing the order, Pakistan has received three F-22P frigates from China and is building the fourth one in Pakistan. The Pakistanis were very pleased with their inexpensive Chinese warships, and ordered four more, to be built in Pakistan. The F-22P is an improved version of the Chinese Jiangwei II (053H3). Pakistan already had four of these, as the F-22.

The 123 meter (406 foot) long F-22P displaces 2,500 tons, and carries an eight cell short range (8.6 kilometers) FM-90N surface-to-air missile system. There are two, four cell anti-ship missile systems (180 kilometers range C-802s), two, three cell launchers for rocket launched ET-52C anti-submarine torpedoes, two, six cell RDC-32 anti-submarine rocket launchers. There is also a 76.2mm gun, two 30mm anti-missiles auto-cannon, and a helicopter. Each ship has a crew of 202 and a top speed of 52 kilometers an hour. The F-22Ps are inexpensive, costing about $200 million each. The new American LCS weighs about the same, but has only half as many sailors in the crew, lots more automation and costs over $600 million.

China has developed new designs to replace the Type 53, mainly the 4,000 ton Type 54. This ship is based on Western, not Russian, designs. Twelve of these have been built so far, ten to the more advanced Type 054A standard.

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