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Zhonghai Project - New Generation Guided-Missile Frigate

On June 20, 2016, the Taiwan Navy announced the "New Generation Missile Cruiser" in the future shipbuilding plan, which will replace the Chenggong class, Kangding class, etc. The combat power on paper of the "Small Aegis" ship equipped with a phased array radar air defense system far exceeds the PLAN 054A frigate with similar displacement. But Taiwan’s plan to build a 4,500-ton "Small Aegis" frigate may be in vain, since it was discovered that the original planned displacement was not enough to carry the "Xunlian" phased array radar combat system self-developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. By 2018 the revised new frigate plan is to replace the old Jiyang class [8 Knox-class Frigate] and ChengKung [10 Perry Type] class frigates. When the Kidd class destroyers are retired, the Taiwan military will "provide its own aegis."

The 2,000-3,000-ton [light] frigate, known as the New Generation Guided-Missile Frigate, will eventually replace all existing frigates, including the Perry, Lafayette and Knox-class frigates. The mono-hulled stealthy design will have enclosed masts. The twin-shaft, high length-to-beam ratio features active fin stabilizers to enhance stability. The design objectives include ability to conduct combat operations in Force 7 winds, while remaining seaworthy up to Force 10. The damaged stability criterion is for 100-knot beam winds. It will include a helicopter deck.

The Republic of China Navy’s next-generation frigates are likely to be equipped with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) as well as other weapons, a Ministry of Defense official said. The combat systems designed by Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology for the frigates are to be the equivalent of and be interoperable with Aegis combat system-equipped US warships.

Equipped with phased array radar, vertical launch anti-aircraft missile, sea sword antelope short-range air defense missile, anti-ship missile and other systems. The naval project is codenamed Zhonghai = "Plan to Earthquake the Sea" [Literally "sea of shock" or "earthquake sea"]. The ship featured a 76mm quick gun, 32-tube vertical launcher, two sets of quadruple anti-ship missile launchers, two 30mm cannons, one MK-15 phalanx close-in weapon system, an anti-submarine helicopter, fixed phased array radar system and other equipment.

The "New Generation Missile Cruiser" model that was first exhibited at the World Trade and Aerospace Defense Exhibition on August 16, 2017, you can observe the superstructure and weapon configuration. A 30mm remote control cannon is installed on each side of the top of the hangar to replace the original Bofors 40mm artillery used by the Taiwan Navy for many years. According to the information released during the annual Dunmu Fleet's open visit in March 2017, the simulation data of the new generation of frigate is 135 x 15 x 5m, displacement of 4000 tons, speed of 28 knots, and endurance of 4500 nautical miles.

On 16 May 2017, the Taiwan Navy handled the first business invitation briefing for a new generation of missile frigates. According to the information disclosed by the Navy at this invitation conference, the Navy’s "New Generation Missile Cruiser" has a total length of about 138m, a width of about 16.5m, a displacement of about 4,500 tons, and a ship speed of about 27.5 knots or more, which is slightly larger than the previously announced size. The ship’s equipment includes a phased array radar (effective detection distance of more than 300km) and a vertical launch system.

The "new generation missile frigate" disclosed in the report of Taiwan Ship's annual corporate briefing on December 1, 2020, compared with the model exhibited at the World Trade and Air Show in 2017, the front of the four-sided phased array radar is relatively reduced (may be changed to X-band), add a rotating three-dimensional radar to the rear mast (the shape should be the Seahawkeye active phased array radar under development by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and it should be S-band), The number of MK-41 vertical launchers in the bow of the ship has been reduced to three (24 tubes in total).

In March 2017, news broke that the Taiwan Maritime Patrol Administration was also planning to build a four-thousand-ton marine cruiser. The size of the platform is similar to that of the Navy’s new-generation missile cruiser. It has been discussed whether to use a common carrier design. On September 9, 2017, the Maritime Patrol Administration’s "Plan for the Development of Marine Cruisers" approved by the Executive Yuan included four "4000-ton patrol and rescue ships based on the Navy’s 4,000-ton missile frigate". This 4000-ton frigate can take off and land helicopters, and can be equipped with field hospital-level medical modules. However, at the second Kaohsiung International Maritime Ship and National Defense Industry Exhibition (KIMD EXPO 2018) at the end of September 2018, according to the exhibition data of Taiwanese ships, the 4000-ton frigate is the introduction of foreign ship design, rather than the "new The "Generation Missile Cruiser" shares the ship type.

In early May 2018, the media "reported" that although the design of the "new generation missile cruiser" has been increased from 4,500 tons at the beginning to about 5,500 tons, the capacity is still insufficient, and the equipment planned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences "Xunlian Project" After the shipboard combat and reconnaissance system is complete, there will not be enough margin to install rated weapons and equipment; therefore, the Chinese Academy of Sciences recommends that the displacement should be further increased to 6,200 tons to accommodate a complete combat system and sufficient weapons and equipment. Several European regional air defense ships equipped with phased array radars and vertical launch systems have a full-load displacement ranging from 6000 to 7000 tons.

According to the "Free Times" and other media quotes in early June 2018, some officials revealed that the "Shipborne Four-sided Phased Array Radar" developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences for the "New Generation Missile Cruiser" is slightly larger than originally planned, so if it cannot be reduced effectively. The hull carrier of the "new generation frigate" has to be slightly enlarged to accommodate it, so its finalized displacement may increase to about 5,200 tons.

The new-generation missile frigate "Zhuhai Project" was divided into three stages. The first was the "contract design." In 2017 and 2018 the military was to draw up the frigates’ design specs and contract with a projected budget of NT$49.29 million (US$1.64 million). A total of 49.29 million Taiwan dollars was allocated. The Ship Center was responsible for the implementation from mid-106 to the end of 107. (Mid-2017 to 2018); The second stage is the construction of the first ship (prototype ship), which will be executed from 2018 to 2021, and its budget to be determined by the costs of the ship’s detection system and armaments. First, the prototype ship’s construction bid tol be announced at the end of May 2018, and the bid will be awarded in 2019. Signed and started construction. The first ship will take three years to build (2019 to 2021). It will be delivered to the Navy in 2021. After the Navy's actual operational tests and various operational evaluations, the design will be adjusted and improved, and then the subsequent mass production plan will be carried out (The third stage). After field trials of the prototype, the specifications will be fine-tuned before production starts on the rest of the frigates.

Unless the bulk of the AESA radar is reduced by redesigns, the system’s installation on the frigates would increase each vessel’s total displacement from 4,000 tonnes to between 4,500 tonnes and 5,200 tonnes [fully loaded]. The likely changes to the ship class’ specifications would increase its projected hull length and width from 135m and 15m to 138m and 16.5m respectively. Frigate specifications are subject to alterations according to the needs of the navy and the specifications of the equipment designed by the Chungshan Institute, so they will not be completed until late 2018.

The navy held a conference in Kaohsiung with potential contractors to discuss specification changes. As the navy finalizes designs and specifications, two or three more conferences would be held in 2017. Sources previously said that the navy wanted the next-generation frigates to have powerful anti-aircraft and anti-ship capabilities, and they were to be equipped with AESA radars with an effective range of 300km. The frigates are to be armed with vertical-launch systems capable of firing Tien Kung III anti-aircraft missiles and Hsiung Feng II and Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles and 76mm guns.

Affected by the progress of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the development of ship-use phased radar and the integration of new combat systems, the Navy’s new-generation missile frigate plan has been continuously delayed. However, according to the latest information released by the Taiwan Shipping Company, the new generation of missile frigate has a revised. In addition to the main gun, the bow will also be equipped with 3 sets of vertical missile launch systems. The ship will also be equipped with 4 sets of inclined launch boxes for the Yuji and Yusan anti-ship missiles, showing the new generation frigate will have powerful air defense and anti-ship firepower in the future.

Compared with the previous model exhibited in the 2017 World Trade and Aerospace Defense Exhibition, the 2020 version of the imagination has made some adjustments. In terms of radar, the 2017 version of the model has a four-sided fixed phased array radar tower structure on the front stern, and a closed mast structure (installation of communication and other equipment) on the top of the rear.

When the Navy used to produce the Succeeding-class missile frigate, it originally planned to build the eighth "Tiandan" into a new type of warship equipped with advanced combat systems and carrier-based phased radar, giving it more powerful air defense, the ship is called the "Little Aegis" within the military, and has even negotiated a cooperation plan with the United States. However, due to the huge funding and the different opinions within the military, the "Little Aegis" plan was met with After shelving, the "Tiandan" warship was finally built according to the design of the previous seven Success-class warships.

However, the military still included the "Small Aegis" when planning the navy's future army building plan, and when planning a new generation of missile frigate, it clearly stated that it must be equipped with a new type of ship combat system and a carrier phased radar. The code name of the new generation missile frigate project is the "Zhuhai Project." The total amount of the prototype ship construction plan reached 24.5 billion yuan. Taiwanese shipping companies were actively fighting for this national shipbuilding project, and Taiwanese shipping companies are here. The corporate briefing held in Zhou also exposed the new configuration of the new generation of missile frigates of the "Zhenhai Project".

The original concept of the new generation of frigates was to adopt a double-hull ship-shaped design, so it can accommodate the weight and height of the center of gravity of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' warfare radar. The battle system and radar configuration of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is basically based on the design specifications of the ACS advanced combat system or the so-called Aegis case. However, considering the weight and height of the warfare radar, the baseline design of the success class ship had to be extended by 45 feet at the midship, which is equivalent to a plan to increase the length of the waterline by one-ninth and the hull Slightly widened, which made the displacement of the ACS ship exceeded 5,000 tons at that time.

After deciding to change the design of the new generation of frigates to the traditional monohull design, they insisted on not relaxing the size of the carrier, and insisted on "the new generation of missile frigates. The displacement of the “prototype ship” is limited to 4500 tons, so it cannot accommodate the battle system developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

According to the information released by Taiwan Shipping Company in December 2020, Taiwan’s new-generation missile frigate is planned to be equipped with a main gun on the bow. the 2020 version of the imagination has made some adjustments. In terms of radar, the 2017 version of the model has a four-sided fixed phased array radar tower structure on the front stern, and a closed mast structure (installation of communication and other equipment) on the top of the rear stern; and the 2020 Taiwanese ship legal person briefing will announce The new version of the imagination shows that the structure of the phased array radar tower behind the bridge has been reduced in size (still a four-sided fixed array), communications and electronic interception equipment are concentrated on the mast on the top of the phased array radar tower, and the rear stern roof is modified with a rotating The 3D air search radar is similar in appearance to the "Sea Hawk Eye" active phased array radar first disclosed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the July 2020 issue of "New Monthly".

The rear of the main gun was originally planned to be a whole set of 24-tube vertical launching system. The latest configuration is changed to 3 sets. Each 8-tube missile vertical launch system, a total of 24 missile launch tubes, the middle section of the warship as the command core, with an integrated mast design, equipped with a new type of ship combat system developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a shipborne phased radar. Behind the middle section of the body are 4 sets of oblique launching boxes, which will be used by the Hsiung second-sonic anti-ship missile and Hungsan supersonic anti-ship missile.

In the stern part, the design configuration has been adjusted many times. The 2017 version of the model should use the S-band large passive phased array radar derived from the Tiangong three air defense missile system, while the 2020 version is believed to be four fixed X-band phased array radars plus a rotating S with a longer detection range. Band-to-air search radar; the active phased array radar developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences covers the X (Ku) band to the S band. In addition, the Navy was also considering the introduction of suitable radar systems from abroad. Previously, the Chinese Academy of Sciences tried to configure the self-made X-band ship radar with the "Sea Sword Antelope Missile System" to replace the phalanx rapid artillery, but whjen Taiwan’s latest warship configuration was announced., the X-band naval radar was still maintained, but the "Sea Sword Antelope Missile System" has not appeared, and the Phalanx rapid artillery is still planned to be placed above the helicopter hangar.

Initially the Taiwan Navy hoped that the "new generation missile frigate" would be awarded the contract in 2019 to confirm the contract shipyard, sign the contract and start construction. The first ship will take three years to build (2019 to 2021) and be delivered to the navy in 2021. However, according to the data of the 2019 National Defense Budget, the development period of the first ship of the "New Generation Missile Cruiser" had been relaxed to 7 to 8 years, and the delivery time of the prototype ship had been delayed by five years. This shows that the phased array radar, combat system and air defense development and integration will take some time to mature.

Prototype shipyard trial, delivered to the navy in May 2027, military training will be conducted from May to August 2027, and initial operational evaluation will be conducted from August 2027 to February 2028. The navy initially planned to build six to 10 of the frigates. The Taiwan Navy planned to build the first batch of four new-generation missile frigates, and finally hoped that the total will reach 15. After the prototype ship is completed and undergoes operational evaluation, if the performance meets the navy's needs, 14 to 19 follow-up ships will be built. The number of ships will gradually replace the current Knox-class and Lafayette-class warships This means that the Taiwan Navy intends to build 15 to 20 "new-generation missile frigates," which will eventually be able to fully replace the existing "second-generation ships" of the Chenggong class, Jiyang class, and Kangding class.

This case highlights the reality that the self-defense ambition of national defense is far greater than the actual ability, but also exposes the reality.

Page last modified: 08-01-2021 13:54:01 Zulu