Type 055 Renhai Destroyer DDG Cruiser China
Looking at the assembled naval crew and shipyard worker ranks, one gets a sense of the sheer gigantic scale of the Type 055 destroyer, which matches the size of WWII heavy cruisers (the 2017 US Defense Department report on China actually calls the Type 055 a "cruiser"). PLAN
Type 055 Renhai Destroyer DDG Cruiser China


Minister Zhang Youxia, the procurement chief of the Central Military Commission, presides over the first Type 055 DDG’s christening on June 28, 2017, inaugurating a new epoch in Chinese naval power (The pennant number and name of the first Type 055 are currently undisclosed).

On June 28th, the first Type 055 “Renhai” guided missile destroyer (DDG) was launched in the Changxing Jiangnan Shipyards in Shanghai. Measuring about 180 meters long and over 20 meters wide, the Type 055 destroyer displaces about 12,000-14,000 tons at full load, which was last matched in Asia by the Japanese Tone heavy cruisers, built in 1937-8. Currently, the Chinese Navy has seven other Type 055s under construction and under order, at both the Changxing Jiangnan and Dalian shipyards. The Type 055 has stealth features, including a fully enclosed deck, integrated mast, and stealth shaped superstructure to reduce its radar and infrared signature.

Type 055 Renhai Destroyer DDG Cruiser China 346 Radar

Big Radar for Big Ship

The Type 055 has four Type 346x AESA radars positioned around its bridge for detecting aircraft, missiles and ships in nearly a 1 million square kilometer area. Ahead of the superstructure is the multipurpose 130mm H/PJ-38 cannon.

The Type 055 is a modern, multi-purpose warship, with four enormous Type 346X AESA radars and an integrated mast containing intelligence equipment, electronic countermeasures, and fire control radars. The radars are positioned around the superstructure to provide 360 degree coverage up to 500-600km away. The system can track several hundred targets including ballistic and cruise missile, satellites, aircraft, and warships. It may also have some level of anti-stealth capability. The Type 055’s extensive combat management center process onboard sensor inputs, and fuse data from other Chinese warships, aircraft and, unmanned systems to create a common battlefield picture.

China Navy Type 055 Cruiser

Universal VLS

This fanmade CGI shows a variety of weapons that can launch from the Type 055’s VLS, 2.1 feet wide and 29.5 feet long, with nearly 60% more volume than the 2.3 feet wide and 25.9 feet long Mk 57 VLS, the largest US VLS system. This VLS can fire large Chinese surface to air, anti-ship and land-attack missiles like the HHQ-9, YJ-18 and CJ-10.

In addition to its 130mm H/PJ-38 cannon and Type 1130 CIWS, the Type 055 DDG will have around 112-128 vertical launch system (VLS) cells. Each VLS can hold four smaller surface to air missile (SAM) like a DK-10 medium range SAM, or a single larger missile, such as a HHQ-9 long range SAM, CJ-10 land attack cruise missile, and YJ-18 anti-ship missile. The modular nature of the large Chinese VLS means that the Type 055 in the future can be armed with weapons that are currently in development, like a hypersonic scramjet missile, two stage long range SAM, and HQ-19 anti-satellite/anti-ballistic missile.

Type 055 Renhai Destroyer DDG Cruiser China

The Biggest Warship

Looking at the assembled naval crew and shipyard worker ranks, one gets a sense of the sheer gigantic scale of the Type 055 destroyer, which matches the size of WWII heavy cruisers (the 2017 US Defense Department report on China actually calls the Type 055 a “cruiser”).

Another unique feature is the Type 055’s stern hangar, which is large enough hold two Z-18 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters. The hangar’s also has enough space to give the Type 055 the ability to operate a range of vertical takeoff UAS. Its ASW capability is also enhanced by a forward bow mounted sonar, decoys/torpedo countermeasures, and variable depth and towed array sonars deployed from the stern. The Type 055 may presumably be equipped with surface and underwater unmanned systems for missions including mine countermeasure, ASW and reconnaissance.

Sejong the Great Destroyer KDX III South Korea Aegis

Sejong the Great

The 11,000 ton Sejong the Great destroyer is the AEGIS warship (larger than even the Ticonderoga cruiser) which comes closest to matching the Type 055 DDG in size and armament.

In comparison to the massive Type 055, the Arleigh Burke Flight IIA DDG, the USN’s main surface combatant, displaces 9,800 tons and has 96 VLS cells. The Japanese Kongo and Atago DDGs respectively displace about 9,500-10,000 tons and also have 96 VLS. The only comparable US and allied ships in size and armament are the Ticonderoga cruisers, which has a 9,600 ton displacement but 122 VLS cells, and the 11,000 tons South Korean Sejong the Great DDG, which has 128 VLS. All of those warships are equipped with the AEGIS combat system, which like the one on the Type 055, has four large radars, the AN-SPY-1, and sophisticated computerized command systems to operate its missiles against a range of air and sea threats

Type 055 cruiser destroyer China

Type 055

The second batch of Chinese Type 055 destroyers will likely feature railguns, starting in the 2020-2025 timeframe. A 32 megajoule railgun on the Type 055 destroyer would be able to launch a ten kilogram projectile over a 100 nautical miles away, with the impact energy of medium artillery. Railgun ammunition can be guided, and programmed to explode over a target, destroying soft targets like parked aircraft and missile launchers.

Though the Type 055’s data fusion, networking and command functions would make it the command ship in taskforces with smaller destroyers, frigates and corvettes, Beijing apparently plans to make the Type 055 its primary surface warship for the 21st century. Including the eight initial Type 055 DDGs already planned, the PLAN could order up to 30 of the massive ships by mid-century. The next model in the class, the Type 055A, is planned to be larger and even better armed. It will also have an Integrated Electric Propulsion System (IEPS). The IEPS would generate enough power to support directed energy weapons such as lasers, railguns and high powered microwave systems.

You may also be interested in:

China’s Largest Surface Warship Takes Shape

China’s Getting Ready to Turn on Asia’s Biggest Warship

Learning More about China’s Massive Warship Plans (055 Cruiser)

An Electromagnetic Arms Race Has Begun: China is Making Railguns, Too