China’s Type 022 Stealth Missile Boat Swarms: The Next Big Threat?

Or do these small warships not really post a threat?

National Interest
Date: November 25, 2020
By: Kris Osborn

Armed with surface-to-air missiles, 30mm guns and even anti-ship missiles, a group of Chinese Type 022 stealth missile boats fired weapons, conducted combat operations and moved in a deliberately threatening way in the South China Sea and near the coast of Taiwan. 

A flotilla of the boats (fast-attack craft that have been in existence since 2004) are trained in “comprehensive attack and defense, air defense and anti-terrorism,” according to a story in the Chinese-government backed Global Times. The war preparations, the report continued, should “serve as a strong deterrent to Taiwan secessionists and forces with ulterior motives in the South China Sea.” 

While referred to as “stealth,” the Type 022 missile boats exhibit many shapes, antennas and protruding structures likely to generate a return radar signature, a configuration which would appear somewhat less stealthy. The 140-ft fast attack craft are built with slightly rounded or curved hull shapes and very few sharp edges on the exterior, yet the boats do operate with a protruding mast and a range of vertical structures easily detectable to enemy radar. 

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