China has reportedly launched the 14th Type 052D Luyang III-class guided-missile destroyer — dubbed the “Chinese Aegis”—at the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai in early July, according to Satellite imagery captured on 16 July and published by East Pendulum.
Satellite imagery shows a stretched Type 052D variant afloat in a fitting-out basin together with a Type 055 guided-missile destroyer on order for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). (The Type 055 destroyer was launched in April of this year.) Satellite images indicate that the Type 052Ds helicopter deck is about four meters longer while the size the hangar remains unchanged.
The larger flight was likely installed to support the naval version of China’s new Harbin Z-20 or Zhi-20 currently introduced into service with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and comparable to the U.S.-made Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. The naval variant of the Z-20 is thought to be specially equipped for anti-submarine warfare missions. As I explained previously, the Type 052D is a formidable surface combatant:
A 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 (SAM).
The warship also carries CJ-10 land attack cruise missiles, CT-5 anti-submarine missiles, and TY-83 anti-ship missiles in addition to medium-range SAMs. Type 052D warships are also fitted with a powerful Type 346A active electronically scanned array (AESA), a H/LJQ-364 low-altitude search radar, H/LJQ-366 over-the-horizon surface search & targeting radar, and H/LJQ-517B air search radar, as well as fire control radars. Furthermore, I explained:
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.
Indeed, the Type 052D has been part of the PLAN’s first tentative carrier strike group, consisting of the service’s sole operational aircraft carrier, the 60,000-ton Liaoning, a retrofitted Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class multirole aircraft carrier, as well as various escort ships including Luyang II-class (Type 052C) guided-missile destroyer, a Jiangkai II-class (Type 054A) guided-missile frigate, and alternatively one to two Yuan-class (Type 039A) or Song-class (Type 039) submarines.
At least 18 Type 052D guided missile destroyers are expected to be built for the PLAN by two shipyards: Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai and the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company shipyard — China’s largest shipbuilder, located in the city of Dalian in Northeast China. The last Type 052D guided missile destroyer was launched in June 2017. The PLAN currently operates eight ships of the class.