Wednesday, March 21, 2012

China sells used Type 053 frigates to Burma and Bangladesh

Even though they are obsolete, they can still be useful for coastal patrols.

China has recently sold used frigates to Myanmar and Bangladesh, two nations that have had naval disputes with each other in the past. Burma got two Type 53H1 frigates, built in the 1980s. The Burmese Type 53s are 2,000 ton ships armed with four anti-ship missiles, two 100mm guns, and lots of depth charges. Bangladesh is getting two Type 53H2, which were built in the early 1990s and are generally the same as the 53H1s but carry eight anti-ship missiles. Both nations paid very little for their Type 53s (probably free), but compared to what these two fleets already had, the used frigates were a step up.

China built 53 Type 53 frigates (that's a lot). Based on the older Soviet Riga class frigates, the Chinese expanded the original 1,400 ton design (armed with depth charges, three 100mm guns, and torpedoes) to a missile laden 2,000-2,500 ton vessel equipped with modern electronics. The latest version, called the F-22, is built only for export. The primary customer is Pakistan (four sold so far). The remaining Type 53s are mainly used for coastal patrol.

The F-22P is the newest version of the Chinese Jiangwei II (053H3). The 123 meter long F-22P displaces 2,500 tons and carries an eight cell short range (8.6 kilometers) FM-90N surface-to-air missile system. There are two, four cell anti-ship missile systems (180 kilometers range C-802s), two, three cell launchers for rocket launched ET-52C anti-submarine torpedoes, and two, six cell RDC-32 anti-submarine rocket launchers. There is also a 76.2mm gun, two 30mm anti-missiles auto-cannon, and a helicopter. Each ship has a crew of 202 and a top speed of 52 kilometers an hour. The F-22Ps are inexpensive, costing about $200 million each.

Monday, March 12, 2012

China's defense budget surpasses $100 billion mark for 2012

Even with the double digit growth rate, China's defense budget is still just a fraction of USA's defense budget.

China’s defense budget for 2012 will be increased by more than 11%, taking it above the 100 billion US dollar mark for the first time.
While Beijing has repeatedly maintained that its military strength will never go beyond national security demands, its expanding military prowess is likely to trigger unease in the region. With an aircraft carrier and stealth fighter aircraft being developed, the increase in budget for the armed forces is unlikely to dispel fears among the country’s neighbours.

Compared to India, China’s defence budget is nearly three times; last year, India had earmarked more than 36 billion US dollars. The US spends the most on defence and it’s said to be around 740 billion dollars. India’s budget on defence is the 10th largest; China’s is the second after the US.

Jane's Defence and Security Intelligence and Analysis in a recent report predicted that China’s defence budget will cross the 238 billion mark by 2015. Reacting to the report, the defence ministry had denied the calculation.

On Sunday, it was announced China will spend 670.274 billion Yuan on defence this year. The draft defence budget is 67.6 billion Yuan more than the defence expenditure of 2011.

Li Zhaoxing, spokesperson for the annual session of the country’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, which begins its session on Monday, said; “The Chinese government follows the principle of coordinating defense development with economic development. It sets the country's defense spending according to the requirements of national defense and the level of economic development.”

Li told reporters the growth of China's defense expenditure is "reasonable and appropriate."

"The Chinese government has maintained reasonable and appropriate growth in defense spending on the strength of rapid economic and social development and the steady increase of fiscal revenues," he said.

According to Li, during the last three years since the outbreak of the international financial crisis, China's gross domestic product (GDP) and national fiscal expenditure showed year-on-year growth of 14.5% and 20.3%, respectively, but the country's defence expenditure only grew by 13%.

He also noted that the share of defense spending in China's GDP dropped from 1.33% in 2008 to 1.28% in 2011.

Compared to other major countries, China's military spending is low given its population of 1.3 billion, vast land area and long coastlines, Li said.

While China's military spending amounted to 1.28 % of its GDP in 2011, that of the United States, Britain, India and other countries all exceed 2 %, said Li.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

China sends 11th flotilla to patrol in Gulf of Aden

Chinese navy is gaining valuable experience operating far from home port.

A Chinese Navy relief task force has left for the Gulf of Aden to escort ships off Somalia’s pirate-infested waters.

The eleventh rotation of its standing anti-piracy patrol left a port in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Tuesday.

The task force comprises the Type 052 destroyer Qingdao and the Type 054A frigate Yantai, as well as the supply ship Weishanhu. The ships carry 800 naval personnel, including Special Forces and two helicopters.

China sent its first convoy fleet to the Gulf of Aden in December 2008. To date, Chinese navy fleets have escorted 4 500 ships from countries all over the world and rescued 50 ships attacked by pirates.

Late last month the People's Liberation Army Navy held the International Symposium on Counter-Piracy and Escort Operations in China's eastern city of Nanjing. Delegations from more than 20 states and organizations came together to discuss anti-piracy efforts in Somalia, such as the sharing of naval intelligence, hostage rescue operations, legal issues, logistics and cooperation.

Piracy is a big problem in the Gulf of Aden as Somali pirates prey on ships sailing in the waters off the lawless horn of Africa country, raking in millions of dollars in ransoms and driving up shipping costs. Maritime piracy costs the global economy US$12 billion a year according to researchers.

As of February 29, pirates have hijacked 6 vessels out of 62 attempts this year. Somali pirates have been responsible for four of those successful hijackings and are currently holding 12 vessels and 177 hostages, according to the International Maritime Bureau.