The Chinese Navy is now in possession of the largest missile destroyer in Asia and the second-largest in the world, following the commission of the Type 055 destroyer Nanchang on Sunday.
The advanced warship completed its final testing last year and has been working with the fleet since it was launched in 2017.
NATO calls the Type 055 guided missile destroyers the “Renhai-class” and considers them to be cruisers, not destroyers, since they can perform command functions. Whatever you call it, the warship is highly advanced and very big.
Weighing in at 13,000 tons of displacement, the 180-meter-long Type 055 is the largest such warship in Asia and the second-largest in the world after the US Navy’s Zumwalt-class destroyers, which are slightly larger at about 15,000 tons.
That’s nearly one-third larger than the US Navy’s staple destroyer, the Arleigh Burke-class, and twice the size of Russia’s Sovremenny-class destroyers. It has an estimated 30-knot top speed, roughly comparable to the other two warships.
Nanchang can carry up to 112 vertical missile launch systems able to deploy some of the PLAN’s deadliest projectiles, including the YJ-18 long-range anti-ship missile, CJ-10 cruise missile and HHQ-9 anti-air missile, which Military Today judges to be “broadly equivalent” to Russia’s S-300 system.
In addition, the Type 055 will have a powerful anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare helicopter at its disposal in the form of a naval version of the Z-20 helicopter.
The PLAN has five other Type 055 destroyers, the most recent of which was launched on December 26, 2019. It features the latest version of the Type 346 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
The Type 346 radar is rumored to be able to detect stealth aircraft, which are optimized to hide from higher frequency radars in the X- and Ku-bands, according to USNI.
However, as the first ship in its class, Nanchang suffers several design flaws, such as a poorly positioned radar system limiting its range and the use of aluminum alloy in the ship’s upper decks, reducing its ability to survive naval combat.
The Nanchang would “play the role of bodyguard for China’s fledgling aircraft carrier fleet in the future, as Beijing plans to build at least four carrier strike groups.” The PLAN’s second carrier, Shandong, was commissioned just last month.
The Type 055 plays into that strategy, which focuses on anti-access/area denial by making it too dangerous for US naval forces to operate within striking distance of the Chinese mainland.
These new units allow the PLAN surface force to operate outside shore-based air defense systems because one or two ships are equipped to provide air defense for the entire task group.”
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2020.