Chinese Type 022 catamaran missile boats take part at exercise in East China Sea

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Photo by Chen Jian

The Type 22 (NATO designation: Houbei class) missile boats of Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy taken part at a maritime attack and defense training exercise in waters of the East China Sea in early July, 2017.

They are attached to a fast attack missile boat group under the PLA Navy’s East China Sea Fleet. The first boat was launched in April 2004. The boats incorporate stealth features and are based on an Australian-designed wave-piercing catamaran hulls that are more stable than other fast missile craft in high sea conditions. Approximately 83 of these missile boats are currently in service with three flotillas having been produced over a span of seven years.

Type 22 is designed to patrol China’s coastal areas and operate within its littoral zone. As each of the 83 ships is armed with eight anti-ship missiles, it is speculated by some observers that a large number of missile craft firing in salvos can potentially overwhelm an enemy fleet, including an aircraft carrier battle group.

Although an offensive missile attack poses a threat to hostile surface ships, historically small missile boats have fared poorly in major naval confrontations against larger vessels and aircraft, so the Type 22 is vulnerable when operating outside of air defense cover.

Photo by Chen Jian
Photo by Chen Jian
Photo by Chen Jian

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