I did a little write up today for Type 056 and here it is.
The first 056 class No. 582 was officially handed over to PLAN on the 25th of February as Wu Shengli, Commander of PLAN personally came to inspect the ship. While it is referred to as light frigate by Chinese news, it really should be classified as a corvette or OPV based on its size and displacements. This class is expected to be the next mass produced PLAN shipping class.
The type 056 class fills the gap between the 4000-ton 054A class frigate and 220-ton 022 class FAC. As of now, at least 9 other 056s have already been launched by the 4 shipyards building them. The overall number of this class is expected to be between the final count of 054A (probably around 20) and 022 (around 80). They are expected to replace the 10 Type 053 class Jianghu frigates currently serving in the South China Sea Patrol flotilla and the close to 50 Type 037 class missile boats.
In many ways, the type 056 hull is based on the Pattani class OPV that China built for Thailand from 2005 to 2006, although more signature reduction work is done such as the shielding of the funnels. Currently, 056 is equipped with 4 YJ-83s and AK-176M for ASuW missions along with a 8-cell HQ-10, AK-176M and two automated new single 30-mm barrel CIWS for self defense. Although the first few ships are not fitted with Towed Array sonar, it could provide some support for near sea ASW missions with a helipad large enough to hold Z-9C (and possibly Z-15 in the future), appearance of bow sonar bulb and 6 torpedo tubes installed in what looked to be the hangar. Most likely, the earliest 056 units will be used to replace Type 037s in the Hong Kong garrison and green water patrol missions. I expect a good number of Type 056 to eventually be used to patrol the disputed areas in South China Sea. Compared to the ships it is replacing, Type 056 requires 1/3 of the crew size of Jianghu class while offering more punch and similar endurance. Compared to Type 037, it should have better endurance, seakeeping and far stronger ASuW and AAW capabilities. It should be able to handle the naval threats from neighboring countries like Vietnam, Phillipines and Thailand. The goal is to free up larger ships like the Type 054A class and Type 052C/D class for blue water missions. In the future, I could also see ASW variants of Type 056 replacing the Type 037 sub chasers and more dedicated patrol versions of Type 056 with hangar large enough to hold 2 S-100 size UAVs.