PCFG Houku / Hegu Class (Type 024 / Project 24 / Project EM1A)
Fast Attack Craft, Missile
A torpedo and missile boat is a high speed planing boat or hydrofoil boat carrying torpedo or missile as their principal attack weapon. They are small, high speed, powerful, low cost, highly maneuverable, agile and concealed. They are suitable for sea shore and good at attack on enemy surface ships in cooperation with other forces in formation or in single, and is known as the "light cavalry at sea".
Guided missile boats have been developed on the basis of the Soviet expertise. In the 1950s, Wuhu and Guangzhou shipyards copied the Soviet wooden twin tube torpedo boat. Small-sized guided missile boats were developed at Wuhu by the No. 701 Institute. Though the earlier versions of the torpedoes and missile boats were made of wood, later versions like that of the Houku (also referred to as the Hegu) Class, were of steel metal.
In 1965 the Soviet Union provided China with its first Osa Class and Komar Class fast attack boats, with two and four Styx Surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs), respectively. The boats had Russian M503A diesels for each shaft. Osa was equipped with 3 propellers and diesels, and Komar had 4 propellers and diesels. China had only the Square Tie search radar to control its SSN-1 missiles.
In January 1966, CCCPC Special Commission approved the development of a small sized steel guided missile boat. Under the direction of the technical responsible Hua Qiru, No. 701 Institute selected an overall design plan of simultaneously launching two ship to ship missiles, with a twin 25mm semi-automatic gun. The guided missile launcher was designed by No. 713 Institute, trial produced by Wuhu shipyard. In December 1966, Wuhu shipyard completed the construction of the boat and handed her over to the Navy.
Ten years later, China began mass producing copies of these boats and called them the Houku class. Several Chinese shipyards built about 10 per year, and by 1985 the PLAN had achieved a maximum inventory of 110 Houku. As they aged, the active inventory of each class dropped to about 50 active and 25 in reserve by 1995. By 2008 no active Houku Class boats remained, so a new modern high-speed missile boat was needed to replenish this type in the PLAN order of battle.
Houku class were Chinese-built variants to the Soviet Komar Class guided missile boat design, with a steel hull instead of wooden. A smaller and less heavily armed version of the Osa, the Houku is a coastal patrol vessel capable of taking out shipping traffic. The two large SSM's mounted aft are also effective against warships, when launched at short range.
1 of this class was acquired in 1965, 2 in 1967 and 7 in the 1968-71 period. The building program was swift with about ten constructed per year.
Some reports suggested that China provided Iran 10 Hegu Class fast assault boats with the C-802, but these appear to confuse the delivery 10 Houdong (a variant of the Huangfeng) missile boats.
A single unit was converted to the Homa (also referred to as Project EM1B) variant, which featured a hydrofoil. This evidently proved unsatisfactory, since no further conversions were forthcoming. The design was offered for sale in 1986, but no sales were known to have been made. An export variant of the standard Houku / Hegu Class was also offered with 4 C-801 SSM launchers in place of the original 2 HY-2 launchers. A number of Chinese boats of this class were also refitted to this configuration before finally being withdrawn from service.
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