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.
Big Radar for Big Ship
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.
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.
The Biggest Warship
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
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
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.
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