On Dec. 22, 2014, China commissioned its latest guided missile destroyer, the Jinan 052C, the semi-official China Military Online reported.
The Jinan was commissioned at a naval port in eastern China. From there, the vessel will join the East China Sea Fleet of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Part of a new generation of guided missile destroyers, the Jinan will help the PLAN to expand its ability to operate in the open ocean away from China’s coasts.
This could allow China to further press its territorial ambitions throughout the Pacific and the South China Sea, and to use its navy as a counterweight to US influence in the region.
“The guided missile destroyer Ji’nan (hull number 152), is equipped with multiple sets of home-made new-type weapons,” China Military Online reports. “It is able to attack surface warships and submarines independently or in coordination with other strength of the PLAN. The ship also possesses strong capabilities of conducting long-distance early-warning and detecting as well as regional air-defence operation.”
Currently, the Jinan is designed to accompany China’s sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning in order to effectively protect the 30-year-old, Soviet-built vessel, according to the Taiwan-based Want China Times. The Jinan is envisioned as being the last line of defence for the Liaoning. The carrier’s deployment is a landmark for China’s military, even though the vessel has been beset with technical difficulties.
China has invested heavily in developing its navy as part of a larger modernization of its military. Along with the 052 model of warship, China is also developing the Type 055 Cruiser, which could function as a multipurpose warship. Although smaller than an American Zumwalt-class destroyer, the ship is estimated to be able to carry 128 vertical launch cells for cruise missile deployment.
Additionally, China is on the cusp of achieving a fully capable submarine fleet. China already has one of the largest attack sub fleets in the world, with a mixture of diesel and nuclear-powered vessels. China also has three nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines, which could eventually be capable of targeting the US from the mid-Pacific.
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