Mysterious ship? It’s Type 056 frigate, comparable to Visby stealth

Recently, the sea trials of China’s newest Type 003 aircraft carrier the People’s Liberation Army Navy have captivated observers in the West. Meanwhile, another detail has drawn some attention as well: an unidentified new warship also undergoing sea trials. 

Secret Chinese warship leaked in Fujian aircraft carrier photo
Photo credit: Sohu

According to Chinese resource Sohu, this mysterious vessel boasts a streamlined design, employing radar stealth technology to minimize curved surfaces and right angles. Its futuristic appearance has led many to compare it to Sweden’s Visby-class light patrol vessel. 

However, Sohu reports that this Chinese mystery ship is larger and packed with more weapon systems, with a displacement of at least 1,300 tons. Commonly, ships in this weight class are classified as corvettes or large patrol vessels. These versatile ships might be tasked with a range of missions such as maritime patrol, surveillance, convoy escort, anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, and anti-aircraft defense.

Secret Chinese warship leaked in Fujian aircraft carrier photo
Photo credit: Sohu

It’s a frigate

Based on the latest details, the ship is poised to be the next-generation frigate set for commissioning by the Chinese Navy. It’s worth noting that it’s compared to some of the most advanced patrol vessels globally, like the Visby class. This means the 056 boasts one of the world’s top stealth designs

Warships designed with radar stealth in mind aim to reduce their chance of detection by enemy radars. They achieve this by lessening the reflection of radar waves off their hulls. 

Mysterious ship? It's Type 056 frigate, comparable to Visby stealth
Photo credit: Sohu

This design typically includes sloped surfaces, avoids using right angles, and employs special radar-absorbing materials to coat the hull, minimizing its radar cross-section [RCS]. Because of this, the appearance of the 056 is notably streamlined.

China is betting on size

The Visby-class light patrol vessel, hailed for its cutting-edge stealth technology, is a compact yet formidable warship crafted by Sweden, a NATO ally. Often lauded as one of the world’s most advanced stealth warships, it packs significant power within a small frame. 

Mysterious ship? It's Type 056 frigate, comparable to Visby stealth
Photo credit: Sohu

Meanwhile, China’s latest warships, though bearing a resemblance in design, are noticeably larger. This expansion in size and firepower aligns with China’s strategic shift towards building more sizable and versatile naval platforms, reflecting a broader trend in the evolution of their navy.

Why stealth?

So, what’s the big deal about stealth design? Even for a frigate, stealth is crucial. By incorporating absorbent materials and crafting a hull that scatters radar waves, stealthy warships can minimize their radar signatures, making detection much tougher. 

Mysterious ship? It's Type 056 frigate, comparable to Visby stealth
Photo credit: Sohu

On top of that, advanced heat reduction technologies, like cooling exhaust systems or applying special infrared-reducing coatings, help cut down on thermal radiation. This makes it harder for infrared detection systems to spot them. 

Plus, with electronic warfare gear such as jamming devices and decoy launchers, these stealthy vessels can evade enemy radar and missile systems, avoiding tracking and lock-on.

“China has won”?

Such capabilities also concern the West. Despite existing reconnaissance methods, like those used by the Fujian ship, detecting the exact location of this frigate remains complex. In wartime, stealth warships can stay out of sight while performing crucial reconnaissance and surveillance, making them incredibly effective. 

These stealth advantages significantly enhance their chances of survival, driving Western interest in investing in stealth warships. As Sohu notes, “unexpectedly, China has won,” though that statement might be somewhat exaggerated.

Type 056

Looking at the images, you’ll notice a triangular structure mounted on the forward deck of the 056 ship at position A. It appears to be a small-caliber naval gun. Just in front of it, there’s a square structure, likely housing camera equipment used during sea trials. 

Interestingly, the B battery area features a platform-like structure, indicating that the 056 is equipped with a vertical launch system. 

This means the ship can quickly and continuously fire various types of missiles, including anti-aircraft, anti-ship, and even cruise missiles. This capability heightens the ship’s versatility, enabling it to execute air, surface, and underwater combat missions simultaneously. 

More on Type 056

A helideck is located at the stern of the ship, offering ample space for the Z-20 helicopter to take off and land. Additionally, there is an unidentified object on the deck, possibly special equipment used during sea trials. 

The superstructure of the ship features a fully enclosed round-top mast, along with an installed booster antenna. At the rear of the mast, two raised structures can be observed. One might be a piece of sensor equipment, while the other seems to be a square container housing a Hongqi-10-point defense missile system.

China is increasing its power

While Chinese officials haven’t officially confirmed the warship as a Type 056 frigate, the important takeaway is clear: China’s naval might is expanding, especially with the sea trials of their third independently developed Fujian aircraft carrier. 

This cutting-edge stealth frigate is poised to make significant advancements in technology. Sohu predicts that we will soon witness an aircraft carrier battle group featuring these stealth warships along with the advanced J-35 stealth aircraft. 

Without a doubt, China is challenging the West’s dominance in advanced technology. This development enables China’s navy to achieve first-class status, reinforcing the country’s strategic capabilities. According to Sohu, it is this progress in military technology that empowers Beijing to safeguard its maritime interests and development rights.


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