Saturday, November 20, 2010

Updates around Chinese shipyards

There has been a lot of news from the Zhuhai airshow regarding Chinese UAVs, anti-ship missiles and PGMs with regard to attacking US carrier group. I'm hoping to get to that once the show is over, but there has been a lot of movement from Chinese shipyard recently. I'm just going to give a short look at those movements.

First of all, the minehunter that was shown in a previous entry has now been launched from JiangNan shipyard.

Secondly, the second ship in the Type 071 class has also been launched in the past 2 days. I find the progress for this ship to be quite remarkable, because it was still in large blocks as recent as 3 months ago. Overall, the sensors and weapons fit do not appear to have changed, but there are a couple of minor changes to the hull (if you compare the bridge, you can see the difference). The question now is whether or not they are planning to launch more ships of this class. I would say that this class has started mass production, so we are likely to see more Type 071s come out in the next couple of years from HuDong shipyard.

And finally, we have some really nice updated photos out of Dalian shipyard. We see more work on the island and on the deck. I finally see smoke coming out. I don't know if that's exhaust from the stack or just some testing of auxiliary diesel generators. Either way, there are some serious work going on inside the island.

The other thing we can see is wide installations of Type 730 CIWS and HQ-10 (Chinese version of SeaRAM) on Varyag. They are installed in the 4 locations that Kashtan and AK-630 used to be installed on Admiral K class. In each of those locations, the 2 Kashtan + 1 AK-630 (maybe 2 AK-630 in a couple of spots) are now replaced by 1 Type 730, 1 HQ-10 and 1 mysterious installation (appears to be some kind multi-purpose rocket launcher for decoy purpose). I'm waiting to see if any VLS installations will appear in these locations, because Admiral K also had 6 VLS of SA-N-9 SAM beside each pair of Kashtan CIWS.

This is a shot of the Sea Eagle radar on top of Varyag. It seems to be a different variant compared to what we see on 054A.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

2010 is the start of PLAN's second building boom

Over the past few months, we have really started seeing new warships appearing in different naval shipyards in China. We saw the appearance of the 5th 054A in HP shipyard and then the 5th 054A in HD shipyard. We also saw 2 submarines (including a mysterious new type) appearing in WC shipyard. Over the past week, we have seen a flurry of new photos coming out of different shipyards that really showed the extent of the current buildup. On top of these photos, we also have plenty of rumours surrounding which ships might show up in the coming few months.

First, to show the ships that we have photographic confirmation for.
This is the 5th 054A from HP shipyard. It still does not have the number painted, but looks to be ready for sea trials soon. At the same time, the 4th 054A from HD shipyard will be commissioned soon and the 5th one has yet to be launched.

In the same shipyard, we are seeing continuous progress in the second of the class of Type 071 LPD. From just looking at the previous pictures of the front of the new unit and this photo of the back, it seems to not have changed much from the first of the class.

Of course, we also have our favourite floating casino still undergoing construction in Dalian shipyard. I personally believe that it would've been much further along if the refitting work was done in Shanghai or GuangZhou, but Dalian was chosen right from the start. We have seen the Sea Eagle (similar to top plate) volume search radar installed on top of the island and a mysterious launcher (circled in the second photo) installed where one of the eight kashtan used to be installed. We think that this new launcher is going to look a lot like SeaRAM. A couple of years ago, we saw something like SeaRAM called FL-3000N in the Zhuhai airshow. It looks like this will be installed on Varyag for close in defense and could also be installed on 998, 999 and other ships. The rumoured designation of this CIWS is HQ-10.

Finally, JiangNan shipyard is also back in business now that the new location in ChangXing has become fully operational First of all, we see that a new DDG is under construction in this shipyard that looks to be not too far from getting launched. From what I can see, the outer structural appearance looks very much like that of 052C. It will just be a little while longer before we can see what the entire ship looks like. The rumour is that it will be launched later this month.

We also received the photo of a second DDG under construction in JN shipyard. From the look of this picture and pictures of other modules of this ship, it does not look that far behind the progress of the first DDG.

In the same shipyard, we have also seen a new MCM ship (said to be a minehunter like 804) getting close to been launched. I can only see the back of the ship, so I can't really verify that is the case yet.

At the same time, I have read a lot of about ongoing activities in different shipyards that have not appeared in photographs yet:

In JN shipyard, a total of 4 DDGs are said to be under construction. That is not too surprising if you consider that the 4 052B/Cs were built in a relatively short time span by JN. On top of the MCM ship that has already appeared, at least one more is under construction. And finally, two conventional submarines (most likely Yuan class) are all been worked on in JN.

In GuangZhou shipyard, work has started on 3 or 4 new large replenishment ships. PLAN has really seen the need for new replenishment ships since the start of the missions to Gulf of Aden. The ships 886 and 887 have been really overworked in the past 2 years.

In HuDong shipyard, there are supposedly a couple of new LPDs that are also on the order books. We could also see more 054As to appear out of no where, but this wave seemed to have stopped after the 5th pair.

In Huangpu shipyard, they are concentrated on completing the 5th 054As and the 4 cutters for China Marine Surveillance. A new class of ship (speculated to be type 056) will also be appearing before the end of the year. This ship is supposed to fill the gap between 022 and 054A and play the role of offshore patrol vessel. Similar to 022, PLAN has awarded contract for this ship to numerous shipyards across the country (including smaller ones).

So as you can see, this shipbuilding boom is quite extensive. Many of the prototypes from recent years have gone into mass production. There were a couple of years of lull in 2008 and 2009, but 2010 brings back the memories of 2004 to 2006.