Type 022 Houbei class stealth fast missile boats of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command Navy recently held live-fire combat-oriented exercises that featured guns being fired, shooting of jamming rounds releasing smoke and maneuvering in formation. The training courses in the drills showed the Type 022 missile boats can play a support role in coastal combat, as many of them can arrive at battle positions faster than any other type of larger warship, release jamming rounds or smoke to win tactical advantages for larger, friendly ships, and leave the scene immediately relying on their high speed and stealth design.
The Type 22 (NATO designation: Houbei class) missile boat is a ship class in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy design by Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard. The first boat was launched in April 2004 by the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard at Shanghai. The boats incorporate stealth features and are based on Australian AMD catamaran design wave-piercing catamaran hulls (in which monohulls may only perform at half or less of their maximum capability) that are more stable than other fast missile craft in high sea conditions. Further, seasickness and disorientation is significantly reduced, improving the combat readiness/situational awareness of the small-craft operators during such conditions.
The Type 22 is designed to patrol China’s coastal areas and operate within its littoral zone. As each of the 83 ships is armed with eight YJ-83 CSS-N-8 Saccade anti-ship missiles, it is speculated by some observers that a large number of missile craft firing in salvos can potentially overwhelm an enemy fleet, including an aircraft carrier battle group. Since the mass production of larger warships like the Type 056 corvette, Type 054A frigate and Type 052D destroyer, the Type 022 missile boat which was designed mainly for coastal defense operations where it would launch rapid missile attacks on large hostile warships in coastal waters seemed to have lost its significance despite its advanced design, and reports on the boat became less frequent.