Chinese Defense Ministry confirms launch of first Type 054B frigate
Published: Aug 31, 2023 08:35 PM
Wu Qian File photo; CFP

Wu Qian File photo; CFP

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy has launched a new type of frigate, the Type 054B, China's Ministry of National Defense confirmed on Thursday.

It is a normal arrangement addressing national security needs and the overall naval trend of the PLA Navy developing equipment including main combat vessels according to related plans, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson at the Chinese Defense Ministry, said at a regular press conference on Thursday.

The goal is to defend national sovereignty, security and development interests, and better safeguard world and regional peace and stability, Wu said.

China always follows a path of peaceful development, and unswervingly adheres to a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, Wu said.

Wu made the remarks in response to a question about recent online news reports that the Type 054B has been launched in Shanghai.

The reports suggested that the first hull of the Type 054B was launched at Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai last week.

US news website The Drive called the Type 054B one of the PLA Navy's most important future vessels, saying that it is likely a continuation of the previous Type 054A frigate, which mainly carries out anti-submarine tasks but can also conduct general purpose missions including anti-air warfare and anti-surface warfare.

According to analyses of photos by naval news website Navy Recognition, the Type 054B is larger than the Type 054A, has enhanced situational awareness and air defense capability through a dual-face active phased array radar system plus an integrated radio frequency mast similar to that on the Type 055 destroyer, and replaces the Type 054A's 76mm main gun with a new 100mm main gun that offers more range, power and diversified strike capabilities.

The Type 054B is apparently equipped with a 32-cell vertical launch system that can accommodate long-range air defense missiles and rocket-assisted torpedoes, plus two sets of anti-ship missile launchers, but reduces the two close-in weapon systems equipped by the Type 054A to one in favor of an additional short-range air defense missile system, according to the reports, which also speculated that the new frigate is equipped with a fully electric propulsion system.

The advanced new frigate should be a far sea-operable vessel with high versatility, reliability, cost efficiency and comfortability, and could be built in large numbers, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.

It is expected to join aircraft carriers, amphibious ships and destroyers in far sea voyages after entering service, the expert said.