Analysis: Overview of the PLA Chinese Navy's Type 054B frigate

Let's focus on the Type 054B frigate of the People's Liberation Army Navy, the construction of which has already begun. It is estimated that it will be launched by the end of 2023.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Artist rendering about the Type 054B frigate (Picture source: m.letsports)

According to CCTV, on July 19, a Chinese naval formation carried out a test loading task of multiple types of advanced weapons and equipment, among which, a comprehensive test ship named 891 "Bison" attracted attention from all sides.

The test ship hull is equipped with much advanced electronic equipment and new weaponry. The Type 054B missile frigate, which is expected to be fitted with the new rotating phased-array radar, is already under construction and has started to carry out tests on various technical items.

In fact, as early as mid-May of this year, the Guangzhou Huangpu Wenchong Shipyard, a subsidiary of CSIC, carried out preparatory work on basic materials for the construction of the new generation of Type 054B guided missile frigates.

Regarding the construction of this type of ship, the Chinese Navy attaches extra importance to the work. Compared to the previous Type 054A and earlier models of guided missile frigates, the Type 054B guided missile frigate will have a qualitative breakthrough in the technical field and fundamentally make up for the shortcomings of the previous models.

The most remarkable technical breakthrough of this type of ship is its power plant propulsion system. In addition, the full load displacement, fire control, and defense systems, and the adoption of a new double-sided array phased array radar is also worth mentioning.

Among them, the replacement of the power plant and propulsion system is particularly significant. In addition to being significant in enhancing the ship's maneuverability, range, and flexibility, it also solves, from the root, the bottleneck problem of enhancing the stealthiness of naval ships.

With its hybrid power, it can obtain a higher speed in order to flexibly follow the actions of Chinese carrier formations, and at the same time, when it is necessary to maintain stealth, it can adopt integrated electric propulsion to reduce the source of acoustic and thermal exposure as much as possible.

As the speed of China's naval modernization continues to accelerate, the huge breakthrough in power system technology for the Type 054B guided missile frigate has also pointed out the path for the direction of power development for Chinese naval surface ships.

The more advanced power system of the Type 054B guided missile frigate makes it stand out among the Navy's family of large surface ships. Its full load displacement has been increased from the previous Type 054A's 4,000 tons to 5,000 tons, and although it is larger, it also has a faster speed.

In addition, the Type 054B missile frigate compared to the Type 054A is another major change in the ship's radar, the use of a new double-sided rotating phased array radar.

Whether the type of ship's air defense, anti-ship capabilities, Type 054B compared to Type 054A will have a significant improvement. The dual-band system implemented in the radar system will be a perfect match with the dual-band system of the Type 055 series of guided missile destroyers.

Due to the adoption of this new double-sided rotating phased array radar, the 054B guided missile frigate will be more intensive and streamlined compared to the Type 052D and Type 055 series guided missile destroyers in terms of onboard radar equipment arrangement, and the number of antennas required for the entire radar array will be less than half.

At the same time, much of the equipment space saved will be used for fire control systems that integrate radar functions, which will greatly enhance the 054B's rapid response capability from information perception to fire control protection.