Surface Forces: Chinese Corvettes Settle Down In North Africa


May 19, 2012: Algeria is buying three 2,800 ton corvettes from China. Details were sparse but it is believed that the Chinese corvettes will be equipped in a similar fashion to two Russian Stereguschyy class corvettes Algeria ordered last year. Russia already has completed two of these and four more are under construction. These are small ships (2,200 tons displacement), costing about $125 million each. These "Project 20380" ships have impressive armament (two 30mm anti-missile cannon, one 100mm cannon, eight anti-ship missiles, six anti-submarine missiles, two eight cell anti-missile missile launchers, and two 14.5mm machine-guns). There is a helicopter platform but the ship is not designed to carry one regularly. The small crew size (100) is achieved by installing a lot of automation. The ship also carries air search and navigation radars. It can cruise 6,500 kilometers on one load of fuel. Normally the ship would stay out 7-10 days at a time, unless it received replenishment at sea. Like the American LCS the Russian ship is meant for coastal operations.

The first of a new class (Type 56) of Chinese corvettes is under construction and appears to be under 2,000 tons displacement. The unidentified Chinese corvettes for Algeria are larger still, indicating a possible attempt to leapfrog the Russian Stereguschyy class. Then again, it might have just been a typo in the official press release or a misunderstanding between the Algerians and Chinese.



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