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China launches 32nd Type 054A frigate for PLAN

Photographs circulating on Chinese social media show that the 32nd Type 054A (Jiangkai II-class) frigate for China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been launched at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai.

As the ship was under construction in the same graving dock as the third Type 054A/P frigate for the Pakistan Navy, they would have been launched concurrently by flooding the dock, prior to floating the ships out to a riverside berth for fitting out. A navigational warning issued by the Maritime Safety Administration indicates that the launch took place on 31 July.

The production of Type 054A frigates resumed in 2021 after a gap of more than three years, with the 31st of the class launched on 12 July at the Huangpu shipyard in Guangzhou.

Photographs and satellite imagery of the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard appear to show more modules that are likely components for further Type 054A frigate construction.

Although hull construction at the Huangpu shipyard is conducted under cover in an assembly hall, it is likely that further frigates of the class will also emerge from the facility as production of the 30 Type 054A frigates now in service had been allocated equally between the two yards.

External differences between the in-service ships and the latest batch appear minimal, but a significant change is the replacement of the four MR-90 (‘Front Dome') fire-control radars associated with the HHQ-16 surface-to-air missile system with planar arrays.

All of the Type 054A frigates currently in service carry a ‘5xx'-series pennant number, with the exception of the penultimate ship to be commissioned, which has pennant number 601. This is a reflection that the growing number of surface combatants cannot be contained within the previously established PLAN numbering schemes.

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