With a new anti-aircraft missile system and close-in weapon system, an upgraded Type 053H3 frigate participated in a recent naval exercise. Credit: Handout.

China’s upgraded naval frigate was seen for the first time after participating in a real combat exercise and performing beyond expectations, the Global Times reported.

With a new anti-aircraft missile system and close-in weapon system, an upgraded Type 053H3 frigate participated in a recent naval exercise, and analysts expect it to become a powerful addition to China’s offshore defense force, the report said.

The Type 053H3 frigate, which underwent a midlife modernization program, was seen for the first time after the upgrade participating in a real combat scenario exercise in an official report, Weihutang, a column on military affairs affiliated with China Central Television, reported on Wednesday.

The official report Weihutang mentioned is a statement the Chinese People’s Liberation Army East China Sea Fleet released on its WeChat public account on Tuesday, which included a video showing the warship during the drills, the report said.

Weihutang said that the Type 053H3 frigate had replaced its old HHQ-7 short-range surface-to-air missile with the more advanced HHQ-10 anti-aircraft missile system, identifiable through the video.

It is also equipped with a new type of close-in weapon system, believed to be developed from the Russian AK-630 naval close-in weapon system based on a six-barreled 30 mm rotary cannon, Weihutang said.

After the midlife modernization program, the Type 053H3 has become significantly more powerful, Weihutang said, noting that the fact it is still equipped with short-range weapons means the ship is more likely to conduct offshore defense missions, partnering the more advanced but smaller Type 056 corvette.

Having entered naval service about 20 years ago, the original Type 053H3 frigates are becoming obsolete at a time when China has developed the newer Type 054 frigate and Type 056 corvette, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times, noting that a midlife modernization was a move to make the best out of the ships’ remaining potential.

The upgraded frigate is also equipped with a new type of close-in weapon system, believed to be developed from the Russian AK-630 naval close-in weapon system. Credit: SinoDefence.

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