|The lead ship of the Type 056 fleet|
In what it called a major step in the “systematic upgrade of its equipment and defense,” the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) on February 25th received the first of an expected 20 Type 056 Jiangdao-class stealth corvettes, a new type of ship that experts say will play a major role in defending China’s territorial waters.
The Bengbu (hull 582) was delivered to the PLAN during a commissioning ceremony in Shanghai attended by China’s top brass, including PLAN commander Wu Shengli, who is also a member of the powerful Central Military Commission; Liu Yi, deputy commander of the PLAN, Li Andong; deputy director of the General Armaments Department; and Su Zhiqian, commander of the East China Sea Fleet.
The Type 056 program was first unveiled in 2010. Nine other Type 056 corvettes have been launched since the launch of the Bengbu lead ship in May 2012 and are now being outfitted with weapons and electronics systems. Although Chinese media reported that the new corvette would be put into service “in large quantities,” the PLAN appears to have plans to acquire a total of 20 for the time being.
My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.