The Type 053 family of frigate warships were surface combatants constructed by China for the People's Liberation Army Navy Surface Force and some foreign operators. They began service in 1974 and numbered fifty-three in all. Two subclasses of the design eventually emerged as the Type 053H2G and the Type 053H3 with the former recognized by NATO as "Jiangwei I" and the latter becoming "Jiangwei II". A multi-role capability was added to the first subclass and more advanced features emerged in the follow-on form.
Construction of the Type 053H3 vessels, the focus of this article, took place from 1996 to 2005 and succeeded the somewhat disappointing Type 053H2 models which were intended as successors to the earlier Type 053 ships.
The Jiangwei II ships have a displacement of 2,250 tons under standard load and can see this value increased to nearly 2,400 tons under full load. Dimensions include a running length of 367.4 feet, a beam of 40.7 feet and a draught of 14 feet - making them slightly dimensionally larger than their Jiangwei I class counterparts. Installed power is a COmbined Diesel-and-Diesel (CODAD) arrangement to benefit operating efficiency depending on the action required - general cruising or high-speed dashes. There are 2 x 18E190VA diesel units outputting 23,600 horsepower and 2 x MTU (German) diesel units offering an additional 8,715 horsepower. Maximum speed in ideal conditions reaches 28 knots and range is out to 5,000 nautical miles.
Aboard is a crew of 168 personnel. The warship carries the Type 360 surface-search radar, the Type 517H-1 2D long-range air-search radar and the Type 345 radar for weapons direction. 2 x Racal RM-1290 units serve in the navigation role. Radar Warning Receivers (RWRs) and electronic jammers are standard fixtures. Over the stern of the vessel is a heli-deck and full service hangar allowing the ship to launch and retrieve a single medium-lift navy helicopter (typically the Harbin Z-9C - detailed elsewhere on this site).
Armament is centered on 8 x YJ-83 surface-to-surface missiles held in twin 4-cell launchers. There is a single 8-cell HQ-7 surface-to-air missile (SAM) unit as well (the HG-7 is the Chinese take on the French R330 "Sea Crotale" weapon). The HQ-7 is a notable upgrade over the Jiangwei I class ships, improving on the original's HQ-61B SAM weapon systems. Beyond this missile weaponry are more conventional, projectile-driven systems like the 100mm PJ33A twin-gunned turreted deck gun over the forecastle and 4 x 37mm Type 76A twin-gunned Anti-Aircraft (AA) autocannons. The warship also carries 2 x Triple-tubed torpedo launchers, 2 x Depth charge racks and 2 x 6-tubed Type 3200 Anti-Submarine ROCket (ASROC) launchers.
Fourteen ships were built to the Jiangwei II standard; ten for the Chinese Navy and a further four to serve the Pakistani Navy. The first Chinese vessel to enter service became CNS Lianyungang (522), built by Hudong and launched in October of 1997. She was formally commissioned in January of 1998. All of the ten PLAAN vessels maintain an active presence in the Chinese fleet, the group divided into the East Sea Fleet, the North Sea Fleet and the South Sea Fleet. The final vessel, CNS Mianyang (528), was commissioned in April of 2005.
The warships began a Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) program sometime in 2015 to keep them viable for the long-term. Improvements are being made to the radar and electronic warfare suites and more advanced missile and digitally-directed weaponry is being introduced.
The four warships built for Pakistan have been given the names of Zulfiquar (251), Shamsheer (252), Saif (253) and Aslat (254).
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Offshore bombardment / attack of surface targets / areas primarily through onboard ballistic weaponry.
Offshore strike of surface targets primarily through onboard missile / rocket weaponry.
Active patroling of vital waterways and maritime areas; can also serve as local deterrence against airborne and seaborne threats.
✓Airspace Denial / Deterrence
Neutralization or deterrence of airborne elements through onboard ballistic of missile weaponry.
Serving in support (either firepower or material) of the main surface fleet in Blue Water environments.
367.4 ft 111.98 m
40.7 ft 12.41 m
14.0 ft 4.27 m
2 x 18E390VA marine diesel engines developing 23,600 horsepower with 2 x MTU marine diesel engines outputting 8,715 horsepower to 2 x Shafts under stern in CODAD arrangement.
28.0 kts (32.2 mph)
5,040 nm (5,800 mi | 9,334 km)
kts = knots | mph = miles-per-hour | nm = nautical miles | mi = miles | km = kilometers
1 kts = 1.15 mph | 1 nm = 1.15 mi | 1 nm = 1.85 km
1 x 100mm PJ33A twin-gunned turreted deck gun.
2 x 4-cell YJ-83 surface-to-surface missile system.
1 x 8-cell HQ-7 surface-to-air missile launcher.
4 x 37mm Type 76A Anti-Aircraft (AA) autocannons.
2 x 6-tube Type 3200 Anti-Submarine ROCket (ASROC) system (36 rocket reloads).
6 x Torpedo tubes
2 x Depth Charge racks
2 x Type 946/PJ-46 15-shot decoy launchers.
(Not all weapon types may be represented in the showcase above)
Full-service hangar/helideck provision for 2 x Harbin Z-9C navalized medium-lift helicopters or similar.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective naval campaigns / operations / periods.
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