The PLA-Navy has taken delivery of the first of 20 Type 056 frigates (above). They are called stealth frigates because of their ability to evade radar detection thanks to a sleek design and some of the same technology that goes into stealth fighter jets. The ships are so narrow there is only room for a third the crew carried by the earlier 053 generation of frigates. Their size might make them a corvette more than a frigate, but the difference is one without much distinction these days. Xinhua says the vessel was handed over in Shanghai earlier this week. The video below comes from there.
The fleet will be used on escort duties, anti-submarine patrols and what are called “operations against sea targets”. While it comes with the usual disclaimer about “weaponry research and development is solely for national security and not aimed at any specific country or goal,” the stealth frigate marks another substantial step in the upgrade of China’s naval forces and their capability to project force in coastal and regional waters. Not uncoincidentally, this Bystander suspects, China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, docked in Qingdao this week, too, the first time it has berthed in a military port .