A new type of Chinese missile corvette, the principal role for which might be to project power in the South China Sea, could be launched “within days,” military watchers said on the weekend.
Talk of a Type 056 class first emerged in late 2010. So far, little technical information has been released about the corvettes, which are believed to lie in the 1,400-to-1,700-tonne category.
Two shipyards, Hudong Shipyard in Shanghai and Huangpu Shipyard in Guangzhou, are engaged in what appears to be a race to complete the vessels.
Officials at Hudong reportedly announced late last week that the first Type 056 corvette could be launched “within days,” with possible commissioning at the end of this year.
A total of four hulls are known to be under construction, with completion expected to follow soon after the delivery of the lead ship.
Designs of the Type 056 show fin stabilization for high seas navigation with weapons including a 76mm main gun, four surface-to-surface missile (SSM) launchers — reportedly for the YJ-83 SSM, the latest Chinese design — and one FL-1000 surface-to-air missile launcher.
The corvette could also come equipped with torpedoes for limited anti-submarine capability.
It also has a helipad large enough to accommodate vertical takeoff and landing for unmanned aerial vehicles.
Analysts believe the Type 056 could replace or augment the six Type 037 Houjian 528 fast-attack craft that have been based in Hong Kong since 1997, with future production for other People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleets, where they could replace aging attack craft and frigates. The corvette could also be intended for export markets, with reports that the Bangladeshi navy has already expressed interest in its acquisition.
The new corvettes will fill a gap between smaller offshore patrol vessels and larger frigates and could be ideal for action in the South China Sea, where China is embroiled in disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines.
Analysts believe medium-sized ships like the Type 056 are better suited to combat light missile frigates with similar displacement already deployed by competitors in the volatile, mineral-rich body of water.
Beyond China’s disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea, the new corvettes could also play a role in a conflict with Taiwan.
“The Type 056 looks like a rough match for the Taiwan Navy’s Lafayette frigates on a one-to-one basis,” James Holmes of the US Naval War College told the Taipei Times by e-mail last night. “Operated in ‘distributed’ fashion — multiple units networked to act in concert, combining their sensors and armaments — it would pose a serious challenge to Taiwan’s surface fleet in high-intensity combat.”
However, warships like the Type 056 are intended more to serve in a flotilla than to take part in major naval actions, Holmes said.
"Their armament is modest, but they outgun most competitors they’re likely to encounter in the South China Sea. They’re less useful in the Yellow and East China seas, where the competition is stiffer since the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the US Seventh Fleet are there,” he said.
In related developments, reports said on the weekend that the FFG 572 Yueyang — the 14th Type 054A destroyer in the PLAN — is scheduled to be commissioned with the 9th Destroyer Squadron in the South Sea Fleet sometime next year.
CLEAR BEFORE LEAVING: Two baby boys and a woman in her 30s tested negative before departing for Japan, but tests taken after their arrival came back postive Three Taiwanese tested positive for COVID-19 when they arrived in Japan earlier this month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it reported a new imported case. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the center, said that one of the three cases in Japan is a Taiwanese baby under the age of one, whose parents work in Japan. The infant came to Taiwan with his parents in January, and the parents paid for the family’s COVID-19 tests on Oct. 10 ahead of their planned return to Japan on Monday last week, he said. The boy and his
‘BACKED BY ENEMY’: CTi News is one of the few channels promoting unification, the New Party chairman said, while pro-Taiwan groups called it a propaganda outlet Pan-blue camp supporters yesterday lodged a protest at the National Communications Commission (NCC) against what they say is a possible move by the government to shut down CTi News, adding that politics should not interfere with freedom of the press. Protesters included representatives from the New Party, the Blue Sky Action Alliance, the 333 Political Party Alliance and other pan-blue groups. “We stand here today because CTi News is one of the few media outlets in Taiwan that is still willing to give groups supporting unification with China a voice. If the news channel is gone, there would only be
NEW YEAR’S EVE: Examples from South Korea and Japan show that 15 local COVID-19 infections could emerge in a short period if measures are not taken The Taipei City Government would cancel its New Year’s Eve Party and all large events if 15 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 are reported in the city within a week, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said yesterday. Addressing the Taipei Cross Border E-Commerce Annual Convention, Ko said the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many uncertainties to society, and that e-commerce is on a path of no return and would continue to grow. Many countries have not effectively controlled their COVID-19 outbreaks, and although Taiwan implements strict border controls and there have been few inbound passengers, the pandemic is unlikely to end soon,
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday accused CTi News of trying to mislead the public by publishing a half-page advert claiming that the party interfered in the National Communications Commission’s (NCC) review of its application for a license renewal. CTi News is distorting the commission’s review process by painting it as a political conflict and turning it into a smear campaign against the DPP, party spokeswoman Yen Juo-fang (顏若芳) said. “The NCC is an independent body, which carries out reviews and makes decisions based on its members’ professional expertise, as well as regulations and legal requirements governing media operations,” Yen said. “We condemn