At least one 054B frigate is being developed, China confirms

After months of speculation, Chinese officials have now confirmed that they have developed at least one new Type of 054B guided-missile frigate.
Christopher McFadden
Alleged image of the Type 054B guided-missile frigate at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding docks last week.


Several months after rumors that China might be developed a "bigger," "badder" version of its 054A frigate, China has now confirmed that 054B guided-missile frigate is currently under development. As confirmed by Chinese defense officials, the first 054B frigate may even be very close to completion.

054B now confirmed

Allegedly designed to support China's growing aircraft carrier fleet, Chinese officials announced the news on Chinese social media, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports. On Thursday (30th August 2023), Ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian said it was “a normal arrangement based on the needs of national security and the overall development of naval construction, [to defend] national sovereignty, security and development interests and better-safeguarding world and regional peace and stability.”

SCMP also reports that recent photos shared on social media depict a larger and more sophisticated version of the Type 054A navy warship that is currently in use by the People's Liberation Army Navy. The new ship, which was spotted at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding docks, appears to be ready for launch. This shipyard is, apparently, a subsidiary of China's State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC).

According to photos shared by military enthusiasts, it also appears that a second Type 054B frigate is also close to completion at the Huangpu-Wenchong Shipyard in Guangzhou, which is also a subsidiary of CSSC. Photos of the more complete vessel appear to depict the frigate's hull being rolled out of a dry dock, indicating that it may be ready to launch soon.

It seems that this new 054B frigate is considerably larger than the Type 054A, which weighs in at around 4,000 tonnes. According to military experts who have analyzed satellite images, the Type 054B vessel's hull measures around 482 feet (147 meters) in length, 60 feet (18 meters) in width, and has a displacement of 6,000 tonnes. This makes it more than 10 meters longer than the Type 051A.

The new ship's longer hull should allow for the accommodation of the navy's Z-20 helicopters and drones. Also according to released photos, it seems to utilize the advanced phased array radar system found on the Type 054A and the stealth mast that the navy's most powerful destroyer, the Type 055, uses.

According to military experts, the newly designed frigate could potentially operate using an advanced electric propulsion system instead of diesel fuel. This innovative technology, which has been developed by the People's Liberation Army, could potentially increase the speed of the frigate and enable it to power high-energy weapons such as rail guns.

According to Lu Li-shih, a former instructor at Taiwan's Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, the new frigate seemed to be equipped with advanced sonar technology similar to the one used on the Type 055 destroyer.

Potentially anti-submarine too

According to Lu, if the Type 054B is equipped with anti-submarine capabilities, it could potentially serve as an escort vessel for the navy's amphibious assault ship. This could make it a valuable partner to the Type 075 landing helicopter dock in the event of a conflict over Taiwan.

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