The Type 052D is actually a larger variant of the Type 052C, with more powerful weapon improvements
The People’s Liberation Army Navy has made great strides in recent years. The Chinese Navy rapid naval construction speed makes it an undeniable force. In addition to aircraft carriers, Type 075 landing helicopter docks and Type 055 heavy destroyers, a large number of smaller Type 052D destroyers are also under construction in China.
The Type 052D destroyer will play a supporting role for the Type 055 when this class is too expensive and difficult to build in large numbers.
Just before the end of 2019, China promptly launched another Type 055 destroyer and a Type 052D destroyer at the Dalian shipyard in Liaoning province.
China currently has more than 20 Type 052D destroyers, of which 11 are in operation, the rest are at sea trials or under construction. This is an amazing achievement in the field of Chinese shipbuilding. If all goes well, the two new destroyers will formally enter service with the Chinese navy in the next two years.
In recent years, the field the People’s Liberation Army is trying to catch up with the United States is the navy, which will soon expand from 2 to 6 fleets. The Chinese views the Type 052D as a modern generation of warships with outstanding anti-ship, anti-aircraft and missile detection capabilities. According to People’s Liberation Army, the Type 052C and Type 052D destroyers will be the main force of China’s destroyer fleets.
In the West, China’s Type 052D destroyer is also known as the Luyang III-class destroyer. The Type 052D is actually a larger variant of the Type 052C, with more powerful weapon improvements. Chinese warships are built as multi-purpose destroyers that can deal with air, surface, and underwater threats. The first destroyer, the Kunming, was commissioned in 2014.
The Type 052D class has a length of 154m, a beam of 17m, a draft of 6m and a full load displacement of 7,500 tons. To operate, the ship needs a crew of 280. Its layout is slightly different from the previous Type 052C class, its superstructure is inclined in a larger angle to reduce the radar cross section.
The Type 052D is designed with a hangar and a helicopter deck at the stern, serving for a single Kamov Ka-28 or Harbin Z-9C helicopter. On either side of the helicopter hangar is an enclosed boat launching system.
Sensor and radar
Chinese media informally calls the Type 052D the Chinese Aegis, portraying it as a peer of contemporary United States Navy ships equipped with the Aegis Combat System.
The center of the Type 052D is a combination of the Type 346 Dragon Eye active electronic scan array radar system and the Type 518 L-band radars.
Functionally, it is similar to the US SPY-1 Aegis radar, which is also installed on the Type 052C destroyers, Type 055 destroyers and Type 001A aircraft carriers. It can detect aerial targets at significant ranges and track multiple targets at the same time.
There are reports that Dragon Eye is capable of detecting stealth aircraft such as the F-35, but there’s no firm evidence of that at this point. It seems that it can even detect and track ballistic missiles, though it is unknown if these ships carry any anti-ballistic missiles in their inventory.
Some sources say the Type 052D-class ships are also fitted with a latest Chinese data link. This secure tactical data system is used to communicate with other naval assets.
The Type 052D is also equipped with both variable depth and linear towed array sonar, a Type IR-17 optronic system, and jammers. The variable depth sonar is deployed through a hinged opening in the transom by a hydraulic lifting mechanism.
In terms of weapons, the Type 052D is the first Chinese surface combatant to use silo-based universal vertical launching system. The silos on the 052D destroyer can be loaded with HQ-9B surface-to-air missiles, CY-5 anti-submarine missiles, and YJ-18 anti-ship missiles, China’s version of the Russian Klub.
It may also be equipped with a land attack cruise missile, possibly a naval version of the DF-10. In addition to the silo-based surface-to-air missiles, it also reportedly has a quad pack of DK-10A medium range surface-to-air missiles. It even has a 24 shot anti-submarine decoy system.
The Type 052D has a single 130 mm main gun. For self-defense against missiles, small boats and fast attack craft the Chinese destroyer has two 30 mm 7-barrelled Type 730 close-in weapon system. This was replaced in later units by the larger 11-barrelled Type 1130 close-in weapon system. It can fire at a rate of 10,000 rounds per minute. It is claimed that it can intercept incoming anti-ship missiles up to a speed of Mach 4 with a 96% success rate.
The Type 052D ships are equipped with a combined diesel or gas propulsion system integrating two QC-280 gas turbines and two MTU 20V 956TB92 diesel engines. Each gas turbine generates a power output of 28 megawatt, while each diesel engine develops a maximum power of 6 megawatt.
The ship can reach a maximum speed of 30 knots, a range of 7,400 km at 15 knots.
With the launch of new Type 052D and Type 055 destroyers, China now has 300 warships of all kinds, close to the number of US warships. However, the philosophy of the two sides are very different when the US owns many aircraft carriers and helicopter landing docks, while one third of the Chinese fleet consists of small guided-missile warships, mainly serving for patrol in coastal areas. These small warships can be deployed to natural and man-made islands, which China has unilaterally claimed in the South China Sea. In this sea, China also has armed forces of maritime militia, disguised under the cover of fishing vessels.
It can be said that the 052D class is a reliable ship but there are many unknowns about it, especially regarding the effectiveness of the radar and the accuracy of the missile. It will take time for Type 052D to prove its capabilities.
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