March 14, 2012:
China has recently sold used frigates to Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh, two nations that have had naval disputes with each other in the past. Burma got two Type 53H1 frigates, built in the 1980s. The Burmese Type 53s are 2,000 ton ships armed with four anti-ship missiles, two 100mm guns, and lots of depth charges. Bangladesh is getting two Type 53H2, which were built in the early 1990s and are generally the same as the 53H1s but carry eight anti-ship missiles. Both nations paid very little for their Type 53s, but compared to what these two fleets already had, the used frigates were a step up.
China built 53 Type 53s over two decades. Based on the older Soviet (Russian) Riga class frigates, the Chinese expanded the original 1,400 ton design (armed with depth charges, three 100mm guns, and torpedoes) to a missile laden 2,000-2,500 ton vessel equipped with modern electronics. The latest version, called the F-22, is built only for export. The primary customer is Pakistan. The remaining Type 53s are mainly used for coastal patrol.
The F-22P is an improved version of the Chinese Jiangwei II (053H3). The 123 meter (406 foot) long F-22P displaces 2,500 tons and carries an eight cell short range (8.6 kilometers) FM-90N surface-to-air missile system. There are two, four cell anti-ship missile systems (180 kilometers range C-802s), two, three cell launchers for rocket launched ET-52C anti-submarine torpedoes, and two, six cell RDC-32 anti-submarine rocket launchers. There is also a 76.2mm gun, two 30mm anti-missiles auto-cannon, and a helicopter. Each ship has a crew of 202 and a top speed of 52 kilometers an hour. The F-22Ps are inexpensive, costing about $200 million each. The new American LCS weighs about the same but has only half as many sailors in the crew, lots more automation, and costs over $600 million.
China has developed new designs to replace the Type 53, mainly the 4,000 ton Type 54. This ship is based on Western, not Russian, designs. Twelve of these have been built so far, ten to the more advanced Type 054A standard.