PLAN ASW Capability


Hendrik_2000

Lieutenant General
I am excited that for the first time they reveal the application of UAV as anti sub warfare too! From Henri K blog. Looking at acoustic buoy. It is dispenser or device? Seem like it also equipped with small guided weapon

The anti-submarine warfare version of the #drone Wing Loong II is also physically present on the tarmac.
① 360 ° maritime surveillance radar
② Electronic warfare pod (self-defense?)
③ Acoustic buoy pod
④ Guided bomb

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Maikeru

Junior Member
Registered Member
I believe all 054As have towed sonar; 054As prior to the 17th hull lack VDS however.

This comparison of 055 versus 054A in terms of direct organic ASW capabilities is also somewhat moot to the original question posed because no one was suggesting the 055s direct role would be conducting ASW itself in the hypothetical SAG (though of course it could do so in a capable way if it was asked).

At this point people are talking about general characteristics of ASW surface combatants rather than addressing the original question, the answer which should have been a simple "yes, it is possible"
Did or will the first 16 get retrofitted with VDS?
 

5unrise

New Member
Registered Member
That's useful to know these ships all have TASS. It would help tremendously with passive sonar detection.
 

plawolf

Brigadier
A little OT, but sometimes I think people are making arguments based too much on theoreticals and how western navies operate without fully considering the realities and likely operating areas where a PLAN task force might realistically engage in direct combat against a peer adversary.

Yes, 056As are not your classic modern blue water warship (although destroyers smaller were the workhorses of both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres during WWII), but where exactly does people think the PLAN would be fighting?

Probably for the next generation, the PLAN would not hold any delusions about their ability to go toe-to-toe with the USN far from home and win. Nor are there compelling reasons for China to go to war with America beyond its immediate home waters around Taiwan and the SCS.

It is because of these limited ambitions that the PLAN has chosen to make the 056A is primary ASW workhorse, and they will form the backbone of any PLAN fleets AWS surface element in any remotely realistic major conflict scenarios for the next two decades or more.

The lack of a full on hanger on the 056 would be an issue if they were meant to operate independently in an ASW role, but there would be only extremely unlikely and strategically irrelevant scenarios for that to happen. In most normal instances, they will operate as part of a much larger task group, and used as sonar screens as well as FOBs for ASW helicopters from the core fleet principle surface combatants. This intention can be easily seen from the large garage doors built into the aft superstructure, which would make perfect sense for refuelling and re-arming friendly ASW helicopters to extend both their operating range and endurance while minimising off-mission transit time to and from ships.

The existence of the huge 056A fleet could also be a reason why the PLAN is in no great hurry to retrofit all their 054A FFGs with the latest and greatest ASW hardware available.

When operating in such a role, it would make perfect sense for an 055 to act as the command ship for the 056A fleet elements due to its massive C&C capabilities.
 

Michaelsinodef

Junior Member
Registered Member
A little OT, but sometimes I think people are making arguments based too much on theoreticals and how western navies operate without fully considering the realities and likely operating areas where a PLAN task force might realistically engage in direct combat against a peer adversary.

Yes, 056As are not your classic modern blue water warship (although destroyers smaller were the workhorses of both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres during WWII), but where exactly does people think the PLAN would be fighting?

Probably for the next generation, the PLAN would not hold any delusions about their ability to go toe-to-toe with the USN far from home and win. Nor are there compelling reasons for China to go to war with America beyond its immediate home waters around Taiwan and the SCS.

It is because of these limited ambitions that the PLAN has chosen to make the 056A is primary ASW workhorse, and they will form the backbone of any PLAN fleets AWS surface element in any remotely realistic major conflict scenarios for the next two decades or more.

The lack of a full on hanger on the 056 would be an issue if they were meant to operate independently in an ASW role, but there would be only extremely unlikely and strategically irrelevant scenarios for that to happen. In most normal instances, they will operate as part of a much larger task group, and used as sonar screens as well as FOBs for ASW helicopters from the core fleet principle surface combatants. This intention can be easily seen from the large garage doors built into the aft superstructure, which would make perfect sense for refuelling and re-arming friendly ASW helicopters to extend both their operating range and endurance while minimising off-mission transit time to and from ships.

The existence of the huge 056A fleet could also be a reason why the PLAN is in no great hurry to retrofit all their 054A FFGs with the latest and greatest ASW hardware available.

When operating in such a role, it would make perfect sense for an 055 to act as the command ship for the 056A fleet elements due to its massive C&C capabilities.
Hm wouldn't this kinda make a 055 group instead of a carrier group lol.

But with that said, I can see it.
Will also be immensely useful for locking down the Taiwan strait (probably even want to extent the lockdown to be bigger than that).
 

AndrewS

Colonel
Registered Member
When operating in such a role, it would make perfect sense for an 055 to act as the command ship for the 056A fleet elements due to its massive C&C capabilities.

I think there's actually very little need for a Type-055 C&C with regards to the Type-056 Corvettes, because they don't have much anti-air or anti-surface capability.

But the Corvettes do have good ASW suites so can be left to perform that mission in conjunction with a Helo
 

AndrewS

Colonel
Registered Member
Just a reminder on fleet composition

From Frigate->Destroyer->Cruiser : you see the ship cost, ship tonnage and the VLS cells almost double each time
There are also other capability increases like helicopters, radars, etc

Type-054A 1.8 Billion RMB - 32 VLS - 4000tonnes - Frigate
Type-052D 3.5 Billion RMB - 64 VLS - 7500tonnes - Destroyer
Type-055 6 Billion RMB - 112 VLS - 13000tonnes - Cruiser (Large Destroyer)

Then you also have the 72 Type-056 Corvettes at 1500tonnes which sit a tier below the Frigates

So in any notional naval taskforce, you try to use the lowest cost ship for a required role

---
So I see the Type-055 operating as the area air-defence commander for larger SAGs, fleet carriers and amphibious carriers
It's similar to the Ticonderoga Cruiser role in the US Navy

But if you want a radar picket or long-range air defence on the threat axis, you can use a cheaper Type-052D

Then you've got Frigates and Corvettes providing the ASW screens for all these ships plus also performing convoy duties

A Type-054A Frigate is about $300M and the Type-056 Corvette is even cheaper
In comparison, a Virginia SSN costs $3450M. You could buy 11 Type-054A Frigates for the price of a single Virginia.
So a Virginia really doesn't want to reveal itself by shooting at a Frigate or Corvette
 

MarKoz81

New Member
Registered Member
My three cents on 055 and 056 and their roles:

Let's start with the logic of ASW operations.

The first problem in combat is knowledge of enemy position. Submarines never attack from positions which can be disclosed by a torpedo launch due to their inherent vulnerability. A submarine which disclosed its location is a dead submarine. A single ASW ship searching for target on its own will either have to depend on passive detection or will have to disclose its position to provoke reaction. Both carry very high risk and low probability of success. This is why currently ASW at minimum requires one passive element and one active element. Either two ships forming a bistatic sonar network or a ship and a helicopter working in tandem.

ASW helicopters never work alone even though they are technically capable of building their own multi-static networks with sonobuoys. Helicopters have relatively short range especially when carrying torpedoes. Whenever you have an ASW helo operating at any significant distance from its mothership it is reacting to something a friendly submarine or ASW plane spotted.

ASW warships have hangars when their intended area of operation does not allow for basing on land. All aerial operations are primarily logistical problems of X time in air with Y payload. Helicopters operating from small ships have limited size and therefore range and payload making the logistics of their mission uneconomical. This is why for coastal vessels having a hangar is a detriment. The ship has to be enlarged and balanced etc while having a helicopter that is not effective enough compared to a land-based ASW plane. 2-4 hours on station is always better than 30-45 minutes.

Type 056A is a coastal ASW vessel therefore it has no need for a hangar. 056As intended role is persistent passive search with the use of towed array sonar while ASW aircraft are the primary active element. ASW aircraft come and go creating artificial periods of "hunt" and "lull" but the ASW ship never stops listening.

Obviously when your operation exceeds range of land-based aircraft you need hangars or aircraft carriers.

A ship with hangar is never on patrol alone because if it needs to change position there is a limited time when the ASW aircraft can listen. ASW ships work in pairs and take turns. In such arrangement helicopters extend the radius of the operation and shorten reaction time. They are a multiplier.

Now a little bit about hangars.

Flagships need a helicopter to carry flag officers and staff. If a 055 is damaged and unable to continue its mission the flag is moved to another vessel whether it has the facilities or not. It will not be moved to a carrier - even if one is available - because of risk management and because of the simple fact that modern tactics puts the carrier and the escorts as independent action groups. When the carrier is under attack it will launch its aircraft which can require a change of course, while the escorts will put themselves between the threat and the carrier and will close the distance and spread apart to gain detection time and increase effective kill zone.

In USN only ASW ships had two helicopters - Spruance DDGs and Perry FFGs. Arleigh Burke did not have hangar until Flight IIA - 29th vessel in class. Flight IIA was introduced as a replacement of Spruance class retired between 1998 and 2005 after 20 years of service. That however does not mean that Ticonderogas are ASW ships. It simply means that hull is not wasted on a flagship of a task force without a carrier.

The same should hold true for 055. It has two hangars and a towed array not because it is a "primary ASW asset" but because it would otherwise be a waste of hull. A "primary ASW asset" is a ship that will engage in active pursuit of a submarine. I can't imagine high value capital ship ever doing that unless it's defending itself.

Type 055 might be classified as a destroyer by PLAN but it performs the function of a cruiser by current USN classification. As a flagship 055 has ASW capabilities because they will ultimately be its self-defense capabilities if all else fails - including the escort. Naval task forces are like chess figures - the flagship is king, all other figures are expendable.

Finally just because it has two hangars doesn't mean it will always carry two helicopters. For example I can't imagine 055s ever working without an absolute minimum of one 052C/Ds and two 054As. That's total of two AAW ships for aerial defense and two pairs of ASW ships. If you detect a submarine in one area you deploy two ASW ships to intercept it but you can't leave yourself defenseless - you keep the second pair. And if one ship is lost the valuable helo can be salvaged and stored in the extra hangar on the flagship.

At the same time I can't see 055s ever working with 056As as part of a single task force. The one exception is a 056As deployed to an overseas naval base but then it will be performing "coastal" duties operating from that base.

A 12000t ship capable of 30 knots and a small 1500t ship with two diesels and a maximum speed of 25 knots don't have the same seaworthiness. That's the reason why PLAN had to built Type 901 as replenishment ships for carrier groups. Maximum speed is theoretical and dependent on sea state. Size of the hull determines the maximum permissible sea state. Small ships will never reach their maximum speed at the upper range of their seaworthiness and they will not operate in dangerous conditions.

Type 056/A are more practical replacements for Type 037I. They are larger but not too large because ship size determines necessary port facilities. If China is expanding rapidly its maritime reach in the WestPac region
it serves it to keep the ships at practical size as they can be based almost anywhere with basic infrastructure. Whether an allied port or newly made harbor at an artificial island - Type 056A can be based there. It comes at a cost of not being able to use those ships for all missions but that's a choice that all navies have to make.

Even the USN at the height of Cold War had to economize and chose fewer more capable blue water ships leaving coastal duties to others. China has the industry and manpower to field both a blue water navy for power projection and a green water navy for coastal protection and will maintain this two-tier navy until it manages to establish a secure zone of influence.

Type 056/A and the frigates and destroyers are two fleets belonging to a single navy. Their tasks overlap but they do not operate according to the same rules. They may exercise together but we won't see modern frigates and destroyers operate with coastal corvettes in situations other than transit between bases. It is logistically too problematic. In every task force the slowest/weakest ship determines the threshold of maneuver and whatever your impression about modern naval warfare on a tactical level naval maneuver is still the foundation of all strategy and operational art. There's barely a place for a 056A among 054As let alone anything bigger.

Type 056 are coastal vessels so they will be coordinated from the land unless in aforementioned overseas deployment scenario. They simply don't have the range or seaworthiness to ever need a ship like 055 to protect and command them.

The current rumored shipbuilding plan (16x 055, 51x 052C/D, 50x 054A + older destroyers) fits a self-contained sea-going fleet rather than one organically working with coastal vessels. The best argument is to compare the future USN fleet proposals from Hudson Institute. If 056s were an inherent part of the main fleet then the ships would be built in different proportions - more of largest and smallest ships. But they are built exactly how you build two parallel self-sufficient navies - one seagoing and one coastal. One operating with air support from land, and one operating around air support from CVs and LHDs.

Well.. that's looking not like three cents but one Great Wall of Text but I hope you'll find it useful enough to forgive me.
 

AndrewS

Colonel
Registered Member
@MarKoz81

I can see 2 main missions where the Type-056 Corvettes will be working with the Type-054 Frigates

1. Convoy missions, where there are civilian or amphibious ships which are much slower than the escorts
2. Amphibious operations (eg. Taiwan invasion) which are static, and where it makes sense to deploy Type-056s as the outer ASW screen

These are 2 missions which cannot be avoided
 

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