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China Commissions First In New Class of Advanced Missile Destroyers

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An undated photo of Luyang III guided missile destroyer, Kunming. PLAN Photo

An undated photo of Luyang III guided missile destroyer, Kunming. PLAN Photo

China commissioned the first in a new class of destroyers that mirrors advanced western warships on Friday according to local press reports.

Kunming (hull number 172 named for the capital of capital of Yunnan province) — is the first of 12 planned Luyang III guided missile destroyers (DDG) that are being built with radars and missile systems reflective of modern American and European ships.

“Using a combination of imported technology, reverse engineering, and indigenous development, [China] has rapidly narrowed the technology and capability gap between itself and the world’s modern navies,” according to a recent assessment of China’s naval modernization by the Office of Naval Intelligence.

The new 7,500 ton warship design expands on developments in Chinese missile technology and the new Luyang III ships field a more advanced vertical launch system (VLS) that expands the variety of missiles People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) can field.

The 64-cell HHQ-9B VLS could be “equipped with advanced [surface-to air-missiles], anti-submarine missiles, and possibly an eventual land-attack cruise missile (LACM),” according to the ONI assessment.
“These modern, high-end combatants will likely provide increased weapons stores and overall flexibility as surface action groups venture more frequently into blue water in the coming years.”

According to an assessment from Jane’s Defence Weekly, the new VLS system is capable of an almost 100 pound warhead almost 62 miles. Those numbers are small compared to the ranges of Western Aegis air defense systems, but is a significant increase in ranges for PLAN ships.

In addition to the missiles, the PLAN is developing new sensor technology to provide targeting information to its new weapons.

“As these extended range weapons require sophisticated over-the-horizon-targeting (OTH-T) capability to realize their full potential, China has invested heavily in maritime reconnaissance systems at the national and tactical levels, as well as communication systems and data links to enable the flow of accurate and timely targeting data,” according to ONI.
“The addition of these newer units allows the [PLAN’s] surface force to operate with increased confidence outside of shore-based air defense systems, as one or two ships can now provide air defense for the entire task group.”

To that end, PLAN is fielding the Type 346 Dragon Eye radar that represents a major leap in Chinese radar technology.

Though the Chinese technology may look impressive, it’s unclear how effective the new weapons and sensors are “and is the question all China’s watchers have,” Eric Wertheim, author of Naval Institute’s Guide to Combat Fleets of the World told USNI News on Friday.
“They are getting closer and closer to advanced naval weapon system in appearance.
“But are they really as good as they look? We really don’t know.”

The second ship in the planned class of ten — Changsha (hull number 173) — is currently undergoing sea trials, according to Chinese media.

  • grizzlebees

    what a piece of chinese junk.

  • Secundius

    “Have you seen a Blue Elephant” lately?

    The trick to play on someone, is not too play a trick on them at all. Just make them think your are play a trick on them. The Chinese claim, this ship is the best ship to come of the slipways in a long time. Remember, these are the same people who built an aircraft carrier, at a remote secret base, no where near the water. Also this is the first ship of the class? it’s never seen combat! All the “Bells and Whistles” come from a computer software capability program. Do the words FUBAR and SNAFU come to mind. What play well on over Glorified Video Game, is going differ greatly in Real World. There’s no such thing as an obsolete weapon, only an archaic one. Even an archaic weapon can kill, in the the hands of a skilled person(s). When the ship proves itself in actual combat, then, and only then they can make that claim.

    • Jeff Tail

      The China govt Never made any official claims about the power or ability of the type 052D , let alone that this is their “best ship”.

      However, I agree totally : “When the ship proves itself in actual combat, then, and only then they can make that claim.”

      Let us see the USN prove itself in real battle, not just in Hollywood !…lol