Although not equal in number, these are the three main warship classes of the United States, China and Japan.

Kongo-class guided missile destroyers

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) often takes the U.S. Navy as a standard. The MSDF, facing the task of protecting the country from North Korean short and medium-range missiles, is assigned to use four Kongo-class missile destroyers.

Kongo-class guided missile destroyer
Kongo-class guided missile destroyer

These ships are replicas of the US Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer. Kongo and her three sisters, Kirishima, Myoko and Chokai, each 160m long and have a full displacement of 9,400 tons. Each is equipped with 90 cells vertical launching system, using the same missiles as the American Ticonderoga-class cruiser, which can load a variety of weapons. Kongo-class, although generally American design, differences include Oto-Melara gun, LM-2500 gas turbine engine manufactured by IHI Japan, and locally sourced sensors and electronics.

Kongo-class destroyers are equipped with SM-3 missiles. Just two ships can protect most of the country from ballistic missile attacks. Two Kongo ships are always at sea to fulfill this role.

Type 055 guided-missile destroyer

The Type 055-class guided missile destroyer is the latest class to join the Chinese Navy, followed by the Type 052. The Type 055 class is larger and more capable than any other ship in the Chinese navy and is able to compete with American Ticonderoga-class cruisers.

The Type 055 class is 180m long, displaces more than 10,000 tons. Like its US rivals, the Type 055 destroyers can be considered guards for China’s fledgling aircraft carrier fleet. They are capable of taking anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare roles when necessary.

Type 055 guided-missile destroyer
Type 055 guided-missile destroyer

Type 055 has 112 cells vertical launch system, each of which can carry YJ-18A and YJ-100 anti-ship cruise missiles, ground attack cruise missiles or HQ-9B long-range air defense missiles. The ships also carry HHQ-10 short-range air-to-air missiles, similar to NATO’s Rolling Airframe (RAM) missiles, and the H/PJ-11 close-range weapons system similar to the American Phalanx.

China launched two Type 055s at the same time in July 2018. A total of six are under construction and are in different stages. China is said to want at least eight.

Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer

Named after the a famous commander, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are the largest number of destroyers. Understandably, the Arleigh Burke class successfully shrunk the Ticonderoga-class cruisers’ weapons and sensors onto a smaller platform.

The first ship of the class, Arleigh Burke, was built in 1988 and has been in service since 1991. This class has been built almost continuously since then, with a brief pause in the 2010s. The ships are 154m long, displace 7,900 tons, the older ships are heavier. Four LM2500 gas turbine engines help the ship reach speeds of more than 30 knots.

Arleigh Burke-class
Arleigh Burke-class

Each Arleigh Burke class is armed with a naval gun, 96 cells vertical launch system, SPY-1 radar and Aegis combat system, along with Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Starting in the late 1990s, the ships added two helicopter hangars. The third revision, Flight III, will replace SPY-1 radar with SPY-6 Air radar and new missile defense radar. Like the Ticonderoga-class ships, the Arleigh Burke-class ships are capable of defending ballistic missiles with a combination of the Aegis system and the SM-3 missile.

There are 62 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, with 14 are under construction. So far this is the largest class of surface warships.

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