The Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) has launched two Type 055 guided-missile destroyers on order for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) at a shipyard in Dalian in China’s Liaoning province on July 3, according to local media reports.
The two destroyers follow two others launched in May 2018 and June 2017 respectively. In March, China reportedly begun construction of the sixth vessel of the class. A total of six Type 055 guided-missile destroyers are currently in various stages of construction with work on the latest ship of the class kicking off in March of this year.
The PLAN plans to induct at least eight Type 055 destroyers—the largest surface combatants to be built for the service to date—in the coming years. (There is speculation that China may seek to induct a total of 24 warships of the class.) The first-of-class Type 055 destroyer is expected to be delivered to the PLAN by the end of this year after undergoing sea trials.
While previous reports have quoted the displacement of the Type 055 destroyer as being 10,000 tons, it is likely that the full-load displacement will be greater. As Rick Joe pointed out last month, “even a cursory glance at the 055’s dimensions and its configuration reveals a 10,000 ton full displacement is unlikely.” According to Rick, a 13,000-ton full displacement appears to be more likely.
The 180-meter long, 20-meter wide Type 055 class is a development of the Type 052D Luyang III-class guided-missile destroyer, but is about a third bigger than the latter. Given its size, the U.S. Department of Defense has classified the Type 055 as cruiser rather than a destroyer. According to some estimates, the displacement of a Type 055 destroyer appears to be almost a third greater than that of a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.
Type 055 warships are multipurpose surface combatants and can be deployed in long-range air defense, anti-surface warfare, anti-air warfare, and anti-submarine warfare missions.
The Type 055’s main armament consists of two cell blocks consisting of a total of 112 vertical launch systems (VLS) capable of firing medium- to long-range surface-to-air, anti-ship, and land-attack cruise missiles including HHQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, YJ-18 long-range, anti-ship cruise missiles, CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles, next to others. The ship is also armed with a H/PJ-38 130mm main gun. Later upgraded variants of the Type 055 destroyer could also be armed with a railgun.
The Type 055 destroyer also features an integrated mast in which presumably a Type 346B naval active phased array radar system is mounted for detecting and defending against incoming enemy aircraft, missiles, and warships. The ship will also likely be fitted with a bow sonar and a variable depth sonar, as well as a linear towed array sonar for detecting submarines. It can reportedly also carry up to two Z-18 anti-submarine warfare helicopters.