11 August, 2013
PHOTO CREDIT:CHINESE MILITARY REVIEW
Gentlemen, here is another view of the pairing between the 1,440 ton Type 056 stealth corvette and Harbin Z-9 helicopter. The Type 056 corvette entered PLA Navy service in May 2012, with the “Bengbu” being the first in its class.
The Type 056 corvette was inspired by the success of the similar-sized US$50 million Pattani class Offshore Patrol Vessels of the Royal Thai Navy which have already seen action with the International Anti-Piracy Task Force offshore Somalia. The Pattani class OPVs(optmised to carry anti-ship missiles) and the Type 056 corvettes possess large helipads from which embarked Harbin Z-9 helicopters can takeoff and land.
Nigeria’s incoming 1,800 ton P18N stealth Offshore Patrol Vessels are enlarged OPV variants of the Pattani OPV/Type 056 corvette which, as far as naval aviation goes, features the added advantage of incorporating fully-fledged hangars from which airframes such as the Agusta A109e Power and more appropriately, the Harbin Z-9EC anti submarine warfare(ASW) helicopter can operate.
The Z-9EC ASW helicopter is a navalised, Chinese-amplified variant of the Eurocopter Dauphin which is available for US$11 million. It is in service with the PLA Navy, Pakistan Navy, among others.
To facilitate optimal lifecycle maintenance and with the Nigerian Navy’s Westland Lynx Mk.89 ASW helicopters now effectively out of service in perpetuity, Beegeagle’s Blog strongly advocates that the Federal Government of Nigeria reach for the right Chinese-built pairing between the Z-9EC ASW helicopters and the P18N stealth OPVs on order.
That would afford the Nigerian Navy Search and Rescue+Anti Submarine Warfare capabilities on one airframe and facilitate one-stop maintenance arrangements whereby both ship and helicopter are availed with logistic support by their Chinese manufacturers.
PHOTO CREDIT: CHINESE DEFENCE
Indeed, that all-Chinese pairing works much better all round – from the perspective of training and maintenance support – than pairing up an Italian helicopter with a Chinese-built ship. Not to mention the fact that the Chinese are already operating the Type 056 corvette and Z-9 helicopter together on patrol missions in the South China Sea, providing an operational template which can be keyed into wholesale by the Nigerian Navy. Let us do the needful.
By the same token, the Federal Government would do well to consider acquiring Type 056 corvettes to provide ocean-capable successors to the aging fleet of six 58 metre Combattante III and Lurssen missile craft.
The fact that the P18N OPVs were developed from the Type 056 corvette means that from the perspectives of training, maintenance and interoperability, the Type 056 corvette and P18N OPVs would perfectly complement each other – with commonality in operating systems and navtronics, helicopters and replenishable stock.
Let us think about it, Nigerians.