The Type 054A class frigate, also known as Jiangkai II, is a modernized version of the Type 054 design of the Jiangkai I class. Its design is said to be based on the French La Fayette frigate.
China is pursuing an ambitious plan to build a “blue-water navy”, competing directly with the US navy around the world. Over the years, China has repeatedly taken acts of “force deterrence” to countries that have responded. This is considered an extremely dangerous, calculated act of China, threatening the peace of the region. To do this, Beijing is developing carrier combat groups, allowing the deployment of forces to far waters without land support. The carriers will play a central role, along with a range of destroyers and missile frigates of all types in the Chinese navy.
Most recently, in a confrontation between China and Indonesia near the Natuna Islands in January 2020, the Chinese navy deployed a state-of-the-art warship, to assist the Coast Guard vessels in protecting Chinese fishing boats in the area where the incident occurred. According to Indonesian news, on the day of the most fierce confrontation with China, On January 8, the Chinese Navy sent a Type 054A missile frigate to the waters northeast of the Natuna Islands within the exclusive economic zone of Indonesia. Reportedly, the Type 054A is the latest class of guided missile frigates for the Chinese Navy.
The Type 054A class frigate, also known as Jiangkai II, is a modernized version of the Type 054 design of the Jiangkai I class. Its design is said to be based on the French La Fayette frigate. Since being officially commissioned since 2008, Beijing has built this class in large number. Up to now, there are 30 Type 054A ships in operation. Recently, Chinese media has reported that it has plans to stop buildinging this class of ships to switch to its upgraded version, the Type 054B with the number of about 20 units.
Serving as one of China’s main surface warships, the Type-054A has a displacement of 4,000 tons, a length of 134m, a beam of 16m. The Combined diesel and diesel propulsion system consists of 4 SEMT Pielstick 16 PA6V STC diesel engines with a total capacity of 18,880 kW, a maximum speed of 27 knots, a range of 8,000 nauticalmiles. Each vessel can complement a crew of 165.
Compared to the Type 054 ships, the design of the Type 054A has significant improvements compared to its predecessors. The ship has a hull designed with a sloping surface, the superstructure is reduced to minimize the radar cross-section. Radar absorbing materials were also used, increasing the ship’s stealth. At the stern, there is a helicopter deck and a hangar with full service for a single Kamov Ka-28 or Harbin Z-9C helicopter.
The main weapon of the Type-054A is 32 cell vertical launching system similar to the US Mk41 system, for HQ-16 medium-range air defense missiles, a copy of the Russian 9M317 missile. The HQ-16 version initially had a range of 40 km, but the latest variants has reached 70 km. The vertical launching system also allows the launch of Yu-8 anti-submarine missiles.
For anti-ship warfare, the Type 054A is equipped with two quadruple launchers, for eight C-803 sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missile, mounted in the mid-ship. The C-803 missile can carry a 165kg conventional warhead to an operational range of 250km.
In addition, the ship is also equipped with a PJ26 76 mm dual purpose gun and two Type 730 7-barrel 30 mm guns to deal with close-range threats. The close-in weapon system can fire 4,600 to 5,800 rounds per minute for a maximum range of 3,000m.
In response to submarine threats, Type 054A is provided with six 324mm Yu-7 anti-submarine warfare torpedo launchers. There are also two Type 87 240mm six-tube anti-submarine rocket launcher. Each rocket has a 34kg warhead and can strike under-water targets within the range of 1,200m. Countermeasures are two Type 726-4 18-tube decoy rocket launchers.
The ship’s electronic system includes Russian origin radars, but domestically produced by China, including Type 382 naval 3-D air search radar. It can simultaneously track up to 40 targets within the maximum range of 120km. There are also MR-36A surface search radar, two Racal RM-1290 navigation radars operating in I-band and 4 Type 345 SAM fire control radars. 76 mm gun fire control is Type 347G radar. The frigate is also equipped with MGK-335 medium-frequency active and passive sonar system integrating Bull Horn active and Whale Tongue passive hull-mounted, search and attack sonar.
Since its commisstion, Type 054A has been actively involved in the service of the Chinese Navy, notably anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. It has also been deployed to help evacuate Chinese citizens from Libya when the civil war in Libya took place.
According to The Diplomat estimates, each Type 054A frigate costs $ 349 million. The Pakistani Navy has ordered four Type 054A, the last two orders were announced on June 1, 2018. The ships are expected to be operational by 2021. Once delivered, these warships will be one of the largest and most advanced warships of the Pakistan Navy, helping to enhance Pakistan’s ability to respond to future challenges and balance power in the Indian Ocean region. The Type 054A is also the largest and most powerful warship China has ever exported. According to the Economic Times, China is now Pakistan’s largest arms supplier. Both countries have also participated in joint project JF-17 Thunder, a single-engine multi-role fighter. In the past, the Pakistan navy used to require Chinese contractors to install Western weapons and radar systems on order ships. Islamabad believes that Western technology is better than China’s. However, all weapons and radar on the new warships this time seem all to be Chinese products. That shows China’s progress in this industry and has won the confidence of the Pakistani navy.