PPG Molniya-class Fast Attack Craft, Missile
The Chinese Navy was considering procuring Russian Molniya Class fast-attack craft. Reports surfaced in November 2003 that the PLA was interested in buying a number of these fast attack craft. The PLA was also building a large number, perhaps 20 or 30, of a new indigenous missile-armed fast attack craft. A purchase of the Molniya would augment the PLAN's ability to blockade Taiwan or to attack US Navy forces.
Assuming the pre-existing force structure of 150 missile-and gun-equipped fast-attack craft, the Chinese Navy's future force could include 30 Molniya Class craft. The reports continued right up until 2007, suggesting that China had in fact ordered 24-30 Molniya Class vessels, with delivery dates between 2007-2008. As of mid-2008 no Molniya had appeared and China appeared to be pursuing greater numbers of the Type 022 missile boat.
A development of the Soviet Tarantul fast attack craft, the Molniya was designed to operate in concert with other fast attack craft, or ships, submarines and aircraft, to mass anti-ship missiles. A small ship, its effectiveness decreases in poor weather and it has limited endurance, but these limitations are offset by low cost. It was consistent with established PLAN doctrine, which stressed the employment of large numbers of fast attack craft. With the Molniya, this doctrine could be expanded to take advantage the greater range of the ship and its missiles, and the ability of the missiles to be cued by off-board sensors.
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