The Chinese navy released a brand-new 10,000-ton warship on Wednesday, calling it the first of the People’s Liberation Army’s “new generation” of destroyers.
Yesterday, state media released photos and videos of the ship’s grand debut, showing it surrounded by saluting sailors as celebratory streamers filled the sky. It is the first addition to a line of Type 055 guided-missile destroyers, aimed at revolutionizing China as a naval power.
Developed domestically at the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai, the high-tech war machine comes equipped with new air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons, according to official military newspaper PLA Daily.
Military experts say that the Type 055 is a crucial step towards modernizing China’s navy and helping it to catch up to naval superpowers like the US and Japan.
The largest and most advanced of China’s destroyers to date, the Type 055 surpasses both South Korea’s DDG-991 ships and Japan’s Atago class, making it the second most powerful naval vessel in the world, military analysts say, according to the South China Morning Post. The most powerful being the US Navy’s DDG-1000.
The PLA reports that the new battleship can hold up to 100 missiles at a time and can shoot targets 1000-2000 kilometers away. It also comes equipped with stealth technology, allowing it to approach targets easily despite its size.
“A larger, better equipped and more advanced vessel will allow the Chinese navy to go further and better protect the country’s interests overseas,” military analyst Zhou Chenming said, according to the SCMP. “The Type 055 has filled a big gap.”
Before the Type 055, Type-052D was China’s leading warship. At only 7,500 tons, it can only hold a flat-array radar, a 64-cell vertical launch system and just 64 long-range missiles.
But, Li Jie, a naval expert in Beijing, thinks that the Type 055 has outdone more than just other Chinese ships.
“In some respects – such as the size, radar system, missile capacity and the multifunctionality in use – the Type 055 has now caught up, or at least it’s on the same level as the United States’ main destroyer,” he said.
Other Asian countries see China’s new war machine as a potential threat. India, for example, thinks that the new ship could create tension in the Indian Ocean. NDTV reports that the Type 055 already overpowers Indian vessels still being developed, which won’t carry half as many missiles.
And their concerns might be valid. In recent years, China has redoubled its effort to build a powerful, modernized navy. In April, it unveiled the Shandong, China’s first domestically-made aircraft carrier.
Additionally, earlier this month, reports circulated about China’s possible construction of “gigantic submersible arsenal ships” or “arsenal submarines” that would allow the technology of destroyers to go beneath the waves.
Whether that’s true or not, Li says that the navy hopes to build enough Type 055s to escort China’s aircraft carriers and other ships. This means that they will need at least 10 of the new destroyers, which could take years to manufacture.
As for the newly-released warship, it will begin equipment and sea testing and be fully operational by next year.
By Caroline Roy
[Images via Xinhua]
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