Asia Defense | Security | East Asia

China Declares Latest Type 052D Destroyer and Type 054A Frigate ‘Combat Ready’

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has declared two new surface combatants ready for combat.

Franz-Stefan Gady
China Declares Latest Type 052D Destroyer and Type 054A Frigate ‘Combat Ready’
Credit: PLAN via Weibo

The Type 052D Luyang III-class destroyer Guiyang (pennant number 119) and the Type 054A Jiangkai II-class frigate Zaozhuang (pennant number 542) were officially declared ready for combat earlier this month by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), according to Chinese media reports.

The two surface combatants, both of which entered service with the PLAN’s North Sea Fleet in February 2019, underwent a three-day “all-subject training examination” in the first week of March, after which they were declared combat ready. Chinese state-owned media underlined that it took less than a year from commissioning to achieve full combat readiness status for the two warships.

The Guiyang is the eighth of the Type 052D guided missile destroyers, which are alternatively constructed at a shipyard in Dalian in northeast China or at the Jiangnan shipyard, located on Changxing Island in Shanghai. The first-of-class Kunming was launched in August 2012 and commissioned into the PLAN in March 2014. Each Type 052D displaces 7,000 tons and is 157 meters in length. The destroyers are multipurpose surface combatants and can be deployed for a variety of tasks including anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine warfare operations. I previously explained the Type 052D’s combat systems:

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).

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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. 

The PLAN is estimated to deploy up to 23 052Ds in the near future.

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The Zaozhuang is the PLAN’s 30th Type 054A frigate and reportedly will be the final ship of the class. The ships were alternatively constructed at Huangpu shipyard in Guangzhou or at the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai.

Type 054A frigates are multirole surface combatants with about half of the class fitted with variable depth sonar and towed array sonar for anti-submarine warfare operations. As I noted before, the frigates have anti-surface capabilities and also can defend against aerial threats:

 The stealth frigate is armed with HQ-16 medium range air defense missiles and boosts a 32-cell vertical launching system (VLS) in the forward section, capable of firing anti-ship and air defense missiles as well as anti-submarine torpedoes. It also features a Russian-made AK-630 fully automatic naval close in weapon system and a Chinese variant of the AK-176 76 millimeter naval gun.

(…) In addition, the ship is equipped with a Type 382 phased-array radar system and Type 344 and Type 345 multifunctional fire control radar systems, capable of over the horizon targeting.

Type 054A frigates also feature a hangar capable of accommodating Kamov K-27 and Harbin Z-9 helicopters or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  (…) The ship has a standard range of about 3,800 nautical miles7,037 kilometersat a speed of 18 knots, and a maximum un-refueled radius of 12,000 kilometers or 8,000 miles.

There has been speculation that the Type 054A class will be followed by an improved 5,000-ton variant, the Type 054B or Jiangkai III-class guided-missile frigate, but there is no evidence that construction of the new class has begun.