The 056 is a long-needed replacement for coastal patrol vessels whose design originates in the Soviet Union in the 1950s (the Jianghu class). The 056 isn’t particularly remarkable in any way for itself- it’s quite minimalist in its weapons fit and even its stealth features are average for new warship production globally. It does give a certain solidity to China’s patrol capabilities within the “first island chain” that has been sorely lacking. The PLA(N) is still in a situation where its modern “front end” is backed by an obsolescent coastal patrol force. The 056 may also be taking lessons learned from the US Navy’s comparable “Littoral Combat Ship” program, which has produced vessels even less capable and undoubtedly more expensive.

As far as potential adversaries are concerned, the real threat from China’s surface patrol forces are the 80+ Type 022 Houbei class stealth missile catamarans. No developed country has a comparably large and effective missile boat force, which is a very cheap way to do a great deal of damage to a naval force very quickly.

China Daily Mail

China Stealth FrigateChina has launched the first ship in a new class of stealth missile frigates, state media reported, amid ongoing tensions with neighboring countries over Beijing’s maritime claims.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy is building a total of 20 Type 056 Jiangdao class frigates to replace older models and bolster its ability to conduct patrols and escort ships and submarines in waters it claims in the South China and East China seas.

The first in the class, No. 582, was formally delivered to the navy on Feb 25, 2013, in Shanghai, which is home to one of the country’s largest complexes of naval shipyards, according to the official Xinhua News Agency and the navy’s official website.

Newly promoted navy commander Wu Shengli attended the delivery ceremony, the reports said, an indication of the importance with which the service regards the new ships’ mission.

The helicopter-equipped ships feature a sleek…

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