China shows off its new destroyer during massive display of naval power

  • China celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao on Tuesday, showing off some new weapons systems.
  • During the parade, which was shrouded in fog, mist, and rain, the Chinese navy showed off the Nanchang, the first of the new generation of Type 055 destroyers.
  • The new destroyers are the most heavily armed of China’s surface combatants, with 112 universal vertical-launch-system cells capable of firing anti-air, anti-ship, anti-submarine, and land-attack missiles.
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China showed off a new naval weapon, the first of a new generation of hard-hitting destroyers, at a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army Navy on Tuesday.

During the celebratory maritime parade, the Nanchang (101), a 10,000-ton Type 055 stealth destroyer, sailed onto the scene, Reuters reported.

The ship is armed with 112 vertical-launch cells with the ability to fire HHQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missiles, and CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles. The main gun is a H/PJ-38 130-mm gun, but there are reports that this vessel could eventually be equipped with a railgun. The vessel uses X- and S-band radars, allowing it to track stealthy objects of various sizes.

The destroyer, technically large enough to be classified as a cruiser, has a substantial payload capacity that trails the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruisers but exceeds the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which have only 96 vertical-launch cells. The ship’s primary rival is said to be the Zumwalt-class destroyers, which continue to suffer from a variety of developmental problems.

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The Nanchang, which was launched in 2017, started sea trials in August 2018, China Daily reported. Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst,told the Global Times that the public debut at the fleet review on Tuesday indicates that the vessel is now combat-ready.

Additional Type 055 destroyers are in the works. A second ship was launched in April 2018, and two more were launched in July. These vessels, like the Nanchang, are expected to eventually become heavily armed escort ships for China’s emerging carrier force.

While the Liaoning – a Soviet heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser refitted to serve as China’s first aircraft carrier – was present at the naval parade in Qingdao on Tuesday, China’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier, which just completed its fifth sea trial, remained at the shipyard in Dalian.

A total of 32 vessels and 39 aircraft participated in China’s celebratory fleet review. Among the other vessels on display was an apparently modified version of China’s Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines. China also showed off a new type of conventional submarine.

China’s naval modernisation is being watched carefully in Washington as the US shifts its focus from the counterinsurgency fight to potential high-end conflict. The Army, the Navy, and the Marines are all increasingly looking at the kind of anti-ship weaponry required to punch holes in China’s fleet, a necessary capability as China strengthens its military.

Chinese media said the Type 055 destroyer is a “symbol of [the] Chinese navy’s development.”