With a full displacement of 9,783 tons and a length of 172 meters, Taiwan’s Kee Lung-class destroyers should have been classified as a guided missile cruiser.
Despite being a small island, Taiwan maintains a significant defense power. Taiwan’s defense spending has always been highly appreciated internationally by its ability to maintain annual levels of 2% to 3% of GDP, equivalent to about 10 to 11 billion US dollars. With this budget, Taiwan has many options in arms contracts with foreign countries, not to mention a system of defense industry factories that are considered advanced in the region.
Due to certain implications from Beijing, some of Taiwan’s plans to modernize its military through arms procurement contracts with foreign countries are often hindered and difficult to implement. A war with China is unlikely. Along with the strong patronage of the United States, Taiwan aims to use the navy to protect its interests at sea, although small in number but these warships are very high quality. At present, the Taiwanese Navy owns a respectable fleet of warships, up to 120 ships of all kinds. In particular, Kee Lung class is considered to be the most powerful warships of Taiwanese Navy, the lead ship of the class is Kee Lung with the hull number is DDG-1801.
Kee Lung, along with her three sister ships, is the largest destroyer and second largest ship in displacement ever in Republic of China Navy service. The vessels were built by Ingalls Shipbuilding between 1978 and 1982, and were originally intended for the Shah of Iran’s navy – a contract that ended abruptly after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Ingalls completed the vessels for the US Navy as Kidd-class destroyer. After their career in American service ended, the ships were upgraded and transferred to Taiwan under a foreign military sales program. Kee Lung was formerly the American Kidd-class destroyer USS Scott with the hull number DDG-995, which was decommissioned by the United States Navy in 1998. Scott was sold to the Republic of China Navy along with the other three Kidd-class destroyers. The first two ships were delivered to Taiwan in December 2005, and were named Kee Lung and Su Ao. The remaining two units, were delivered in 2006, and named Tso Ying and Ma Kong, respectively.
Before being handed over to the Taiwanese Navy, Kee Lung underwent a reclamation and upgrade. Basic specifications of Kee Lung include 172m in length, a beam of 17m and a draft of 9.6m. The standard and full load displacement are 7,289 tons and 9,783 tons, respectively. With the same size and displacement of the Ticonderoga ships, it can be said that Kee Lung is essentially a guided missile cruiser.
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Designed to conduct general purpose operations, Kee Lung as well as her sisters are capable of carrying out anti-air, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare. They can also support amphibious landing forces. The original purpose of the ship when built was to operate in the Persian Gulf waters, so she features advanced air-intake and filtration systems in order to handle dust and sand.
The Kee Lung is installed with a propulsion system including four General Electric LM2500-30 gas turbines, generating a total capacity of 80000 shalf horsepower. These engines located in two main engine rooms drive two controllable, reversible pitch propellers through two shafts. With this propulsion system, the ship can move at a maximum speed of up to 33 knots and a maximum range of 6,000 nautical miles.
Kee Lung Class destroyers are equipped with a Naval Tactical Data System, integrates various subsystems and collects data from onboard and off-ship sensors. The received data is processed and information about air targets is transferred to weapon systems for engagement.
The Taiwan’s warship is equipped with a range of modern sensors including SPS-48E air search radar, is a long-range, three-dimensional, air-search radar system that provides contact range, bearing, and height information to be displayed on consoles. There is also SPG-60 gun fire control radar, SPS-55 surface search radar, SPQ-9A gun fire control radar and an SQS-53D bow-mounted search and attack sonar. The ship’s electronic warfare suite is AN/SLQ-32 Outboard II. This system is equipped with four deck-mounted super rapid-blooming off-board chaff mortar-type launchers to deceive homing missiles.
Kee Lung’s weapons system is quite powerful with the main guns are two Mark 45 127mm dual purpose guns, along with that are two Mk 26 launchers for RIM-66 SM-2MR Block IIIA medium-range surface-to-air missile. SM-2MR missile has a range of 167km, speed of Mach 3.5, the operation ceiling up to 24,800m. Each of the two systems is placed in the bow and stern respectively. The Kee Lung is also fitted with two 20mm Phalanx close-in weapons systems for point defence. The close-in weapons system can fire 3,000 to 4,500 rounds a minute for an effective range of 3.6km.
The most notable weapon of the Kee Lung destroyer is 8 RGM-84 Harpoon missiles arranged in two clusters of four Mk 141 launcher tubes. Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon missile that can be launched against surface targets. The missiles have a range of 124 km; cruised at Mach 0.8 and carried a 221 kg warhead.
For anti-submarines, Kee Lung is equipped with two Mark 32, 324mm triple torpedo tubes for six MK46 torpedoes, this is a light anti-submarine torpedo with a range of 11 km, a working depth of 365m, a speed of 74 km/h and carrying a 43.9kg warhead.
Kee Lung is the only one of her sister ships to be equipped with LAMPS III system and flight deck strengthened. This enables Kee Lung to carry up to two of the more capable Sikorsky S-70 Seahawk helicopters for anti-submarine warfare, compared to her sister ships. Currently, Kee Lung and her sisters are the largest and most powerful surface warships of the Taiwanese Navy.