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Chinese PLA holds naval drills in three maritime areas.

| 2021

According to information published by Global Times on March 16, 2021, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) recently held combat-oriented naval exercises featuring different types of warships in three major sea areas, at a time when the US secretary of defense is rallying allies in the region and attempting to foster "credible deterrence" against China.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Changzhou 549 is a Type 54A frigate (Picture source: MilitaryLeak)

The PLA Northern, Eastern and Southern theater commands recently organized combat-oriented exercises in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea respectively, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

In the Yellow Sea, Type 056 and Type 056A corvettes Wuhai, Datong and Yingkou formed a flotilla and practiced training courses including main gun shooting, secondary gun shooting and air defense by launching flares. In the East China Sea, Type 052C destroyer Jinan and Type 054A frigate Changzhou ran more than 10 training missions including free combat among warships, submarines and warplanes, and joint fire strikes. In the South China Sea, different types of tug and support ships held maritime search and rescue and emergency towing exercises, according to the CCTV report.

The PLA Southern Theater Command also held another exercise in the Beibu Bay, west of the Leizhou Peninsula in the South China Sea, as sailors on Sunday paid respects with their actions to heroes who emerged victorious in the Chigua Reef Skirmish on March 14, 1988 against Vietnam, the command said in a statement on Sunday, the 33th anniversary of the event.

The intensive PLA naval exercises came as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday that he was on a visit to Asia to boost military cooperation with US allies and foster "credible deterrence" against China, AFP reported on Sunday.

Austin's trip is to include meetings with key allies in Tokyo, New Delhi and Seoul, the report said.

Director of the think tank Hu Bo told the Global Times that the US will likely continue to rally regional allies and partners to interfere in regional affairs and enhance its frontier military presence, as well as the intensity of its activities in the region, in an effort to achieve maritime containment of China.

The Changzhou (549) is a Type 54A frigate in service with the Chinese Navy. She was commissioned on 30 May 2011.

The hull of the Type 54A offers stealth technology featuring sloped sides and reduced superstructure for minimizing the radar cross-section. The ship is designed to conduct anti-air warfare, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions.

The Type 54A has a length of 134.1 m and a beam of 16 m. She is powered by a combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) propulsion system including four Shaanxi 16 PA6 STC diesel engines each developing 5,700 kW. The ship can reach a top speed of 27 knots with a cruising range of 8,025 nautical miles (14,862 km). She has a crew of 165 people.

The Type 54A is equipped with Type 382 3D air / surface search radar, MR-36A surface search radar and two Racal RM-1290 navigation radars, operating in I-band. The 3D search radar can simultaneously track up to 40 targets within the maximum range of 120km. She has a flight deck and one hangar able to accommodate a Kamov Ka-28 Helix or a Harbin Z-9C helicopter.

The Type 054A is armed with 32-cell VLS (Vertical Launching System) able to launch HQ-16 SAM surface-to-air missiles and Yu-8 anti-submarine rocket launcher, eight C-803 anti-ship / land attack cruise missiles, one PJ26 76 mm dual-purpose naval gun, two Type 730 7-barrel 30 mm CIWS guns or Type 1130, six 324mm Yu-7 ASW torpedo launchers, two 6 Type 87 240mm anti-submarine rocket launcher (36 rockets carried) and two Type 726-4 18-tube decoy rocket launchers.

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