China has reportedly launched its second Type 055 guided-missile destroyer on order for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) at the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai, according to photographs posted on Chinese online forums and analyzed by IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. The photographs show the Type 055 destroyer, dressed from bow to radar mast with flags, floating in water in front of a dry dock.
The first Type 055 warship was launched in June 2017 at Shanghai’s Jiangnan shipyard. In March, China has begun construction of the sixth ship of the class at the Dalian shipyard in Liaoning province. Overall, a total of six Type 055 guided-missile destroyers are currently in various stages of construction. The PLAN is expected to induct at least eight Type 055 destroyers in the years ahead.
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The Type 055 guided-missile destroyer class is one of the PLAN’s most ambitious shipbuilding programs to date. Measuring about 180 meters long and over 20 meters wide and displacing around 10,000-tons, the Type 055 is among the largest warships launched in East Asia after World War II.
Accommodating a crew of over 300, the ship retains the general layout of its predecessor, the Type 052D Luyang III-class guided-missile destroyer, but is about a third bigger than the latter. Indeed given its size, the U.S. Department of Defense has classified the Type 055 as cruiser rather than a destroyer. Together with the Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyers, the Type 055 is slated to form the core of future long-range PLAN battlegroups and will be an integral part of any PLAN carrier strike group.
The new warship is armed with a wide range of weapons systems, as I noted previously:
[T]he Type 055 class features a stealth shaped superstructure and deck fitted with two 64-cell vertical launch systems purportedly capable of firing medium- to long-range surface-to-air, anti-ship, and land-attack cruise missiles.
The ship is also armed with a 130-millimeter main gun. Later versions of the Type 055 destroyer could also be armed with a railgun as the ship is fitted with an integrated electrical propulsion system (IEPS) capable of meeting the electrical needs of such a weapon system.
The destroyer is also armed with two Type 1130 close-in weapons systems (CIWS) and can accommodate two Z-18 anti-submarine warfare helicopters or alternatively two Changhe Z-18 medium transport helicopters in the ship’s stern hangar.
Part of the so-called Chinese Aegis, the new destroyer is also equipped with four powerful Type 346B naval active phased array radar systems for detecting and defending against incoming aircraft, missiles, and surface warships.
Type 055 warships are multipurpose platforms and can be deployed in long-range air defense, anti-surface warfare, anti-air warfare, and anti-submarine warfare missions among others. Analysts have pointed out a number of design flaws including the low positioning of its flat-array radar system, which will likely affect the ship’s range of detection and the use of light aluminium alloy in the upper decks, which can reduce the destroyer’s overall damage control capability.