As some of you may know, this blog was referenced by Ronald O'Rourke on a congressional research service report on PLAN modernization. While I'm flattered that this blog is referenced, I still would like to look through some parts of the report that I believe is slightly outdated. Since a part of it is reliant on SIPRI report from 2005. As I have said many times, 2-3 years is a long time in PLAN land. But this would come at a later entry.
So, we've finally seen some new photos out of HD shipyard in the past week. Quite extraordinary actually. We saw photos of the second 054A going to SSF, the discovery of the third 054A and the launching of the first F-22P.
So, this is the picture of the 2nd 054A before it leaves for SSF. It's interesting that unlike the HP ships, this one doesn't get the number painted before it goes there. This maybe a difference in practice between HP and HD.
Probably the bigger news is this photo. Now, the guy posting this claimed it to be the 3rd 054A. I have to say that he has never been wrong before (that I know of) and it does look a 054A. So, I guess we can finally officially say that HD is building its third one.
And finally, DDG-82 meets 568. On their port call to Shanghai, the American sailors got a nice look at China's new ship. I bet it's a fascinating thing for both sides.
And the F-22P has been launched. Well, the first one still needs a lot of fitting, but it's in the waters on schedule. And, the keel for the second one was laid down. As we can see with this next two photos, much of the sensors/weapons on the outside have not been installed yet. They probably launched it in a rush to meet the schedule of Pakistanis coming in.
And of course, there are also a bunch of saying how close the two sides are and how great the relationship has become. I think it's kind of interesting that the hull and some of the sensors/guns seem to be more advanced than most of us expected them to be. It definitely seems like they are upgrades over what Jiangwei II has. If you took a look at the gun, it looks more like the Type 730 than the AK-630s (that I originally expected) or the guns on Jiangwei II. I guess a lot more will be revealed in the coming days. What's even more fascinating will be PN's next frigate RFP. I'm quite confident China will win this with 054A. Clearly, it's a generation better than F-22P and would be an upgrade in every way. But, it would be interesting to see what the Europeans offer. Then, we can see what China offers to counter that. Of course now, I wouldn't expect China to be building 054As for PN until after the last F-22P is finished, but the contract should be signed much earlier than that. If F-22P is any indication, what China offers to PN will be different from 054A and unique to their requirements. At the same time, it would be hard to gage on what will appear on the ship at this point, because we simply don't even know what the 2nd batch of 054As look like. Most likely, a future variant of 054 (not sure when) will be switching to CODOG propulsion. If Richard Fisher's article is any indication, it will be 6 more 054As using the current CODAD propulsion before the switch to the CODOG. I'm guessing the newer variant will be larger and more oriented to ASW duties (rather than being the AAW ship it is right now). By that time, QC-185 should also be ready for warships. My guess is that PN would also be opting for a latter variant of the 054 series.