Recent official media reports showed that more Type 054A guided missile frigates are in service with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, with analysts saying that this type of vessel is versatile and plays an important role in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity in regions including the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits.

A frigate detachment of the PLA Southern Theater Command Navy recently organized the Bayannaoer and the Mianyang to conduct focused, realistic combat-oriented exercises in several training courses, including steering of vessels, joint replenishment, comprehensive attack and defense, as well as the actual use of weapons in multiple sea regions, the PLA Daily reported on Friday.

This is the first time the Bayannaoer was featured in an official media report on its involvement in a combat drill, and photos attached to the PLA Daily report showed that it is a Type 054A frigate.

The Bayannaoer is not the only new Type 054A frigate of the PLA Navy that has recently made its public debut.

Last month, the official social media account of Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, released a video showing sailors on the Type 054A frigate Honghe, the namesake of the prefecture, extending Chinese New Year’s greetings to Honghe residents.

Similarly, a video posted by Baoji Daily shortly before the Chinese New Year showed sailors aboard the Type 054A frigate Baoji sending their best wishes to people in Baoji, Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.

The commissioning of more Type 054A frigates will contribute to the PLA Navy’s capabilities in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, as this type of ship is versatile in both air defense and anti-submarine actions, analysts said. They noted that the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits are key mission areas facing potential threats from the US and Japan, among others.

Shi Hong, executive chief editor of the Chinese magazine Shipborne Weapons, told the Global Times that the 4,000 ton-class Type 054A frigate is well-balanced in multiple roles, and it can conduct coastal defense as well as far sea operations, including escort missions in the Gulf of Aden.

More than 30 Type 054A frigates have entered service, meaning that the ship is reliable and cost-effective, Shi said.

The Pakistan Navy has also procured four Type 054A/P frigates, with two already delivered and two to be delivered this year, the Global Times learned from the Pakistan Navy.