In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Navy establishment in April 2019, Nanchang, the first ship of the Type 055 class became the focus of world attention among 32 Chinese warships participating in the parade. Launched in 2014, Nanchang was one of the largest warships after World War II launched in East Asia.

In the 1980s, the Chinese Navy made initial progress, began to make ocean voyages, and improved its technical and professional qualifications, training activities for submarines and surface warships were also conducted regularly. For a long time, China did not have the money, resources, or technology to develop and produce large warships. In the 1990s and early 2000s, China still lacked the technology of gas turbine engines, anti-submarine warfare helicopters, electronic counter measures systems, naval air defense and anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, sonar, radar, communications systems, electronics and other important technologies.

Over time, however, the Chinese Navy has made tremendous progress, developed itself or gained access to necessary technology. For 30 consecutive years, China’s defense budget announced an average increase of 15% per year, creating momentum for the Chinese Navy to become a new naval power. Today, the Chinese Navy has fully developed with five modern forces, including submarines, surface warships, the Naval Air Force, marines, missiles and coastal artillery. Submarine and destroyers fleets formed the Chinese Navy “steel punch,” most of which was built by China itself.

Chinese Nanchang Destroyer review

Around 2009, a Type 055 indigenous destroyer program was launched. These are new generation destroyers with more than 10,000 tons of replacement, operating at high speed, long endurance, capable of leading a fleet with anti-submarine warfare capabilities surpassing previous Chinese surface combatants. Based on the size of this class, the United States classifies these ships as cruisers, this suggests the US expects the Type 055 to fulfil a similar role as the Ticonderoga-class cruiser.

In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Navy establishment in April 2019, Nanchang, the first ship of the Type 055 class became the focus of world attention among 32 Chinese warships participating in the parade. Launched in 2014, Nanchang was one of the largest warships after World War II launched in East Asia.

The Nanchang is built on the experience of the previous lighter destroyer class, Type 052. The full load displacement up to nearly 13,000 tons, a length of 180m, a beam of 20m and a draft of 6.6m. Nanchang destroyer is the largest warship in the world of this type, surpassing South Korea’s Sejeong the Great Class. Nanchang is designed with a conventional flared hull with distinctive stealthy features including an enclosed bulbous bow that hides mooring points, anchor chains and other equipment. The bow and main deckhouse are configured similarly to previous Type 052 destroyers. A continuous structure amidship increases internal volume and reduces radar cross-section. The smoke stack design reduces both infrared signature and radar cross-section. Chinese sources credit the design as being generally stealthy, with reduced radar, noise, infrared, and electromagnetic radiation signatures.

The destroyer features an aft helicopter deck for supporting the operations of a single medium-sized rotorcraft such as Harbin Z-9 and Changhe Z-18 helicopters. It is also equipped with a stern hangar facility to house up to two helicopters.

The Nanchang destroyer is powered by a combined gas turbine and gas turbine propulsion system integrating four QC-280 gas turbines fitted with two propellers. Each gas turbine will generate a maximum capacity of 38,000 horsepower, creating a total capacity of 150,000 horsepower. The destroyer can reach a maximum speed of 30 knots, a range of up to 5,000 nautical miles at a speed of 18 knots.

Nanchang will serve as a powerful escort for aircraft carriers, and is expected to escort the Liaoning aircraft carrier, forming a Chinese aircraft carrier combat group. To do this, Nanchang’s battle management system may allow integration with carrier strike groups. The integrated mast may mount L-band and X-band radar in four fixed active electronically scanned arrays. The X band radar is better suited for horizon search and low altitude object detection. There are also a hull-mounted sonar, a towed array sonar and a variable depth sonar.

The electronic warfare and active or passive countermeasures systems aboard the ship include EW jammers, Type 726-4 decoy launchers, electronic support measures system and electronic countermeasures system. They are likely more advanced than those deployed on previous ships.

With the displacement equivalent to a cruiser, the Nanchang destroyer is capable of carrying more weapons than any existing Chinese destroyer. The primary armament are missiles carried in 112 universal vertical launch cells, 64 cells in front of the superstructure and 48 cells at the mid-ship. For comparison, China’s Type 052D has only 64 cells, the US Arleigh Burke-class destroyer has 96 and the Ticonderoga cruiser has 122. As such, the Nanchang destroyer is above all, only a little less than with Ticonderoga.

This launch system allows the Chinese warship to deploy a variety of anti-aircraft, anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles, and even land-attack cruise missiles. Nanchang is expected to carry HHQ-9B long-range air defense missile with a range of 200km, HQ-16B medium-range air defense missile with a range of 50 to 70km, DK-10 short-range missile. In addition, the vertical launch system allows the deployment of the new generation YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missiles with a terminal speed of Mach 3, a range of 220 to 540km, surpassing the US Harpoon. Besides, Nanchang may also be equipped with Y-8 anti-submarine missiles with a range of about 20 km.

Nanchang’s auxiliary weapons system is also said to be world class. It is equipped with a H/PJ-38 130 mm dual-purpose naval gun, firing rate of 40 rounds per minute, range up to 30km. The close-in weapon system is a Type 1130 cannon, with a rate of fire of 10,000 rounds per minute.Chinese media praised, with such powerful firepower, Nanchang is Asia’s most powerful warship, no less than the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the Ticonderoga cruiser. Although Nanchang is very powerful, it seems that the Chinese media have forgotten about the power of the proven Aegis radar technology. Nanchang’s Type 346 radar has so far not been independently verified or proven its combat capability. While Nanchang is only capable of long-range air defense, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers have been able to defend against ballistic missiles, equipped with SM-3 interceptor missiles with a range of more than 2,000 km.


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