Surface Forces: Chinese Little Big Boat


March 11, 2011: Four years ago, China appeared to be introducing a new Type 022 (sometimes called 2208) patrol boat. The design is similar to the U.S. LCS (Littoral Combat Ship), but much smaller (220 tons and 40 meters/123 feet long) and more of a fast (65 kilometers an hour) missile boat than a flexible ship (as the U.S. 3,000 ton LCS is). The 022 is a stealthy, wave-piercing catamaran (meaning it can maintain its speed in rough seas). It is highly automated, requiring a crew of only twelve. It carries a 30mm multi-barrel auto cannon (a Russian anti-missile system) and eight YJ-83 anti-ship missiles (each with a range of 120 kilometers and a 164 kg/360 pound warhead). At first it was thought that this class was an experiment, as China had been buying, and taking apart, Australian catamarans for several years. But by 2007 there were several dozen of the Type 022 in service or production and the vessels were too fast and heavily armed (lugging around two large containers of missiles) for patrol work. The 022s are also stealthy, something a patrol boat is not too concerned about. These are attack boats.

All this worries Taiwan, for such ships would be able to operate in the open waters between China and Taiwan, and play a part in an invasion of Taiwan. China is still building Type 022s, and may end up with over a hundred of them. China only has about 70 much older missile attack boats in service, and the 022s are apparently the long awaited replacements. In addition to the missiles, the 022s carry several communications antennae, indicating that it would be communicating with satellites, aircraft or other ships to obtain target information.



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