The Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company, traditionally China’s largest shipbuilder, has launched its second Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyer—dubbed “Chinese Aegis”—on August 3 in Dalian in Northeast China, IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly reports. It is only the second vessel of its type built at the Dalian New Shipyard. The first Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyer is currently being fitted, with a third ship to be launched in the immediate future.
Other vessels of the class have been built by the Jiangnan Shipyard, located on Changxing Island in Shanghai. The shipyard has built eight Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyers so far and launched its ninth vessel this July. At least four more are planned, indicating that the number will go beyond the initial number of 12 Luyang III-class vessels before shifting production to the newer Type 055D multi-role cruisers.
As I reported elsewhere (See: “China Commissions Fourth ‘Carrier Killer Destroyer’”), the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) South Sea Fleet commissioned the Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyer Yangsha in mid-July. The ship is likely operating out of Yalong Bay naval base on Hainan Island. A video of a large-scale PLAN naval exercise held in the East China Sea in the beginning of August showed a Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyer cruising alongside other surface warships.
The Type 052D destroyer class neatly fits into the PLAN’s overall anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy and has purportedly been specifically designed to repel attacks by enemy aircraft carrier strike groups, submarines, and anti-ship missiles.
“While the ship’s powerful Type 346A radars provides for an air defense role, the 052D’s modular vertical launch systems also gives it powerful land attack and anti-submarine capabilities. In addition, the Type 0346A radar and other sensors give the 052D vast intelligence gathering capabilities, which is vital for anti-access/area denial operations,” a Popular Science article explained.
Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyer is equipped with 64 vertical launch cells, each capable of carrying one to four missiles. The ship carries one of the PLAN’s deadliest anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM), the vertically-launched YJ-18 ASCM. Next to its YJ-18 arsenal, Type 052D guided-missile destroyers are also equipped with modern HQ-9 surface-to-air-missiles.
The new destroyer class is also part of fulfilling China’s aspiration to build a “blue water” navy, i.e. fielding “far seas” capable warships by providing air cover outside of shore-based air defense systems. Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyers and similar ships “will likely provide increased weapons stores and overall flexibility as surface action groups venture more frequently into blue water in the coming years,” the Pentagon’s 2015 Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) report on China’s naval power noted.