The August issue of Russia's National Defense Magazine has advised the country to buy warships from China to compensate for its own weakness in shipbuilding and to strengthen Russia's power in the Asia-Pacific region.
China's Type 054A frigate may be an ideal option for Russia, the report said.
With debate sparked by the suspension of a French delivery of two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships to Russia, the need to bring in escort ships is all the more pressing. Even if Russia receives the two warships — the Vladivostok and the Sevastopol — and integrates them into the fleet in the following two years, the current deploy of warships is far less from sufficient, said the article.
Russia has few active battleships. There is only the Varyag missile cruiser and four Type-1155 destroyers for the country's large anti-submarine warships. These ships, all built during the Soviet era, are old, overused, and still engaged in cruising missions in the neighboring regions or anti-piracy campaigns off Africa. The rest include three Type-956 destroyers, which have been placed under long-term maintenance and are hardly functional, according to the report.
A Mistral-class amphibious assault ship needs three to four escort ships, while other warships, including two Project 955 Borei-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, are also expected to enter service by the end of the year or early next year and will need escorts as well.
Russia is incapable in this stage of filling in its shortage of escort warships, despite the many ships that are being constructed at the country's shipywards, said the report. The delivery of two Project 20380 corvettes from the Almaz Design Bureau has been delayed indefinitely, as well as the Type 22350 escort being assembled by the Northern Design Bureau, due to issues related to funding and inadequate facility technology.
Ukraine, one of the few countries capable of producing combustion turbine engines, had been providing services to Russia before the sanction prohibiting the engine's export to the country. Other countries that could build combustion turbine engines include the US, the UK and China, said the report.
China's Type 054A frigate, codenamed Jiangkai II by NATO, is a perfect fit for the Russian navy for many reasons. First of all, the model was designed and built with help from Russia's leading shipmaker, the Northern Design Bureau in St Petersburg. Second, the ship is equipped with weapons and electronic facilities that are designed according to the specs of samples, allowing the parts to be interchanged conveniently. Third, the advanced war ship meets Russian's demands for powerful weapons, invisibility, adaptability and endurance. Finally, the Type 054A frigate worked well with Russian flotillas well during the Russia-China military drill in May, which shows its capability to work side-by-side with Russian ships.
The Type 054A frigate has a full displacement of 4,053 tonnes, is 134.1 meters long and 16 meters wide. The ship can reach a maximum speed at 27 kn. Its firearms include two sets of quadruple launchers for C-803 missiles, 32 vertical launching systems for HQ-16 missiles, one H/PJ26 stealthy 76mm dual purpose gun mount, two Type 730 seven-barrelled 30 mm Gatling gun close-in weapon systems, 2 x 3 324mm YU-7 ASW torpedo launchers, 2 x 6 Type 87 240mm anti-submarine rocket launchers, and can carry one Kamov Ka-28 "Helix" or Harbin Z-9C.
Russia has been a mentor to China as it builds up its national defense technology. Now that the Chinese student has outpaced the Russian teacher, "there is no shame" asking for assistance from China, the report said.
Exporting battleships to Russia would be a win-win situation for China, too, since the Russian ships could be leverage on the side of the PLA to balance the influence of US and Japanese maritime forces in the Asia-Pacific.