A large number of Type 22s being very suitable for asymmetrical tactics when facing a stronger enemy.
China has about 82 Type 22 missile boats, and has ambitions to use them in distant seas, swarm or saturation attacks, but how realistic is the idea. The first boat was launched in April 2004 by the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard at Shanghai. The purpose of the design was to defend the territorial waters against the overwhelming preponderance of the United States at the time, the large number of Type 22s being very suitable for asymmetrical tactics when facing a stronger enemy.
Type 22 has only a displacement of about 220 tons, length is 42.6 m, beam is 12.2 m, and draft is 1.5 m. The boats incorporate stealth features and are based on Australian-designed wave-piercing catamaran hulls that are more stable than other fast missile craft in high sea conditions.
The polygonal-designed superstructure with its similarly angled gun mount indicates a reduced radar cross-section, although probably not enough to be a full stealth-ship as it is built from aluminium rather than composites, and also has a lot of reflective “clutter” in form of rails, searchlights and launchers on the deck; the ships have been shown to be visible using synthetic aperture radar from satellites.
The Type 22 has an advanced C4 datalink that may represent some kind of capability to allow AWACS planes or other ships to vector the Type 22’s missiles. The aluminium hull is reported to use friction stir welding.
The boat’s propulsion system includes two diesel engines with 6,865 horsepower, giving a maximum speed of up to 36 knots. The crew consisted of 12 people. This first ship appears to be focused on the fast attack craft mission, and appears to be designed for the installation of anti-ship missile launchers amidship. But some speculated that the Chinese will soon design and build larger models that can carry UAVs and small boats for landing commandoes.
The main armament of the ship includes eight YJ-83 anti-ship missiles. Anti-aircraft weapon could be QW class MANPAD missiles. There is also a licensed copy of KBP AO-18 6-barrel 30 mm gun (AK-630) by ZEERI. Although an offensive missile attack poses a threat to hostile surface ships, historically small missile boats have fared poorly in major naval confrontations against larger vessels and aircraft, so the Type 22 is vulnerable when operating outside of air defense cover.