BEIJING - China is launching a new class of stealth missile frigate amid ongoing tensions with its neighbors over Beijing's maritime claims.
The People's Liberation Army Navy is building a total of 20 Type 056 Jiangdao class frigates to replace older models and bolster its ability to patrol and escort ships and submarines in waters it claims in the South China and East China seas.
The first in the class, No. 582 was formally delivered to the navy on Monday in the metropolis of Shanghai that is home to the country's eastern fleet.
The ships feature a sleek design to reduce clutter and make them harder to spot by radar and come armed with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles.
The ships also require a crew of just 60, two-thirds fewer than older vessels.