BEIJING, Feb. 10 (ChinaMil) -- The American website Defencyclopedia created a list of the world's top 10 destroyers on December 31, 2016, which included China's type 052D and 052C guided-missile destroyers.
According to Defencyclopedia's standards, "a modern destroyer is a 6000-12,000 ton warship, equipped with an array of long-range missiles, guns, and high power radars, and is designed to operate autonomously or along with a battle group in order to fulfill a variety of tasks which typically consist of land attack, missile defense, and surface warfare”, while the anti-submarine capability is secondary.
Based on these standards, Defencyclopedia did a comprehensive rating of the destroyers employed by various countries in light of such factors as their technical advancement, purpose and weapons equipped, and selected the world's top 10 destroyers.
What's interesting is that in view of displacement, the website excluded America's DDG-1000 and China's type 055 for the sake of "fairness".
Like the famous American magazine National Interest, Defencyclopedia is a defense media keen on selecting "world's top" weapons.
The author described the intention of and standards for the selection as follows: the word "destroyer" delivers destructive power, force, and strength. Compared with destroyer made 100 years ago to cope with the threat from torpedo boat, destroyer today has long become "all-round fortress on the sea", so much so that it has to be redefined.
As a matter of fact, the list that Defencyclopedia came up with carries a strong "American patriotism". All destroyers using the US Aegis system are almost all ranked up high. For instance, Australia's Hobart class destroyer ranked fifth and ROK's King Sejong the Great-class destroyer ranked first.
Having given the top positions to American system, Defencyclopedia gave the rest positions to America's European allies.
Britain's Type 45 Daring destroyer ranked eighth, the Horizon class destroyer co-developed by France and Italy ranked seventh, and more ridiculously, India's Kolkata-class destroyer, which wasn't taken seriously by either the US or Europe, ranked sixth.
It must be noted that the phased array radar system on India's Kolkata-class destroyer hasn't formed full combat capability yet, and it has the poorest detecting power and distance among all the destroyers mentioned above.
The type 052C destroyer, reputed as "China Aegis 1.0", is called "a Chinese knockoff of the American AEGIS destroyers" by the author, who believed the 7000-ton-class warships were "built to test" some new technologies (e.g. electronically scanning radars and long-range ship-to-air missile system) and heralded the "entry" to the 21st-century high-tech sea battle. Therefore, the vessel only ranked ninth.
The type 052D destroyer, the China Aegis 2.0, however, is equipped with the universal vertical launch system (UVLS) that allows one type of launcher to launch various types of missiles, a technology that's only achieved by the U.S. in the whole world. This, combined with type 052D's 7500-ton displacement, put the vessel in the fourth position because it is believed to "form the core of the Chinese PLA Navy’s blue-water ambitions".
Starting with the second-generation homemade guided-missile destroyer, known as the "052 Project", that began in the 1980s, China's military shipbuilding industry has seen one revolutionary reform after another and is getting closer to world's leading level.
In 2003, the first type 052C guided-missile destroyer Lanzhou equipped with China's first-generation ship-borne phased array radar system was delivered to the South China Sea Fleet of the Chinese PLA Navy. In addition to the upgrades in the general structure, guided-missile weapons and anti-submarine combat capability compared with its predecessors, type 052C Lanzhou was among the best in the world thanks to the ship-borne radar system and was reputed as "China Aegis".
In 2013, the guided-missile destroyer Changchun and Zhengzhou of the same type were built and delivered to the East China Sea Fleet faster than expected, indicating that China was continuously improving the destroyer building technology and ship-borne radar technology. There are six type 052C destroyers in service today.
The Hong Kong magazine Militarist published a commentary that said that type 052C destroyer marked a major technical breakthrough by the PLA Navy because to date, only the US and Russia were able to independently develop ship-borne phased array radar and vertical missile launch system. Other countries all bought relevant software and hardware directly, including Japan, ROK, Spain and Norway.
The article said a conspicuous feature of type 052C destroyer is that planar active phased array antennas are equipped around the bridge, which is similar to the layout on American Aegis, hence the name "China Aegis".
The article stressed that type 052C destroyer is mainly responsible for fleet's air defense. It is equipped with China's first homemade long-range ship-to-air missile HHQ-9, adopts vertical launch, and has eight launch compartments (six under the deck in front of the bridge and two at the stern), each able to hold six missiles, totaling 48 interceptor missiles. Each of those missiles weighs 1.3 tons with the maximal firing range of more than 120km and maximal speed of more than 4.2 times the speed of sound.
Photos that were consistent and successive in time began to appear online in China in August 2013, indicating a surge of type 052D guided-missile destroyers entering water, which was the latest ocean-going destroyer built by China's Jiangnan Shipyard Group.
That was as significant as the commissioning of PLA Navy's first aircraft carrier Liaoning. The Dalian Shipbuilding Industry based in northeast China also began to build destroyers in 2014.
In view of that, a special writer for Japanese magazine Ships of the World, predicted that at least 12 type 052D destroyers will be built, and only six type 052C destroyers will probably be built. After the sixth 052C destroyer Xi'an was commissioned in 2014, Chinese shipbuilders have focused on type 052D.
According to him, the type 052D destroyer, whose NATO code name is Lvyang III class, isn't much different from the US Navy's latest version of Arleigh Burke class destroyer. Although 20% smaller in size, 052D vessels have highly advanced phased array radars and combat systems and can fully exert its combat capability on a small platform.
He emphasized that regarding the priority of allocation, the first four type 052D destroyers will be delivered to the South China Sea Fleet, and those from the fifth will be delivered to the fleets of the North China Sea, East China Sea, North China Sea, East China Sea, North China Sea, North China Sea, East China Sea and East China Sea in order.
This indicates that the strategic priority of the PLA Navy will shift to the southern end of the "first island chain", a "weak spot" that the US-Japan military alliance has been working hard to beef up.
Based on satellite photos from the American company Digital Global and "private photos" released by Chinese netizens, the American defense circle believed type 052D and 052C destroyers can form a "stepped difference in combat force".
With an overall performance as good as that of the US Arleigh Burke class Flight-IA destroyer, type 052D can largely narrow the gap between Chinese combat vessels and those in developed countries, and is of great importance for building a blue-water navy.
Since Jiangnan Shipyard Group launched type 052C, China's first regional air defense ship in the real sense, debates about the performance of the PLA Navy's ship-borne phased array radar have never stopped.
The H/LJG-346 Dragon Eye AESA fitted on type 052C destroyer is developed by the 14th Research Institute (Nanjing Electronics Technology Research Institute) of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC). Its layout is similar to that on the Arleigh Burke class Aegis destroyer, giving type 052C the reputation of "China Aegis".
But the real Aegis system doesn't just mean phased array radar. It also needs automatic combat commanding system, has to detect and capture multiple air targets simultaneously, and has to accomplish a series of tasks automatically, from judging the gravity of threat to locking the target, from launching the weapon to guiding the interception.
As type 052D destroyer adopts advanced data chain, its intention of fostering the systemic combat capability on the sea is evident.
Western experts analyzed that as the PLA Navy increases the formation tests and navigation training of the carrier strike group, type 052C and 052D destroyers will escort the group and become its important components.
If China is to have three to four aircraft carriers and more than 12 type 052D destroyers, each carrier strike group will have more than three type 052D vessels, which will not only serve as the air defense weapon of the carrier formation, but can also carry out long-range raid and combat based on its land strike cruise missiles.
Cai Yi, president of Taiwan's East Asia Research Center, didn't think type 052D is the PLA Navy's "target vessel" and believed its configurations still have much room for improvement.
For instance, it can elevate the position of the vertical launching system amidships and slightly adjust the space between the vertical launching system and the helicopter hangar, like the Arleigh Burke class Aegis destroyer does, he added.
In view of these perceptions, some western scholars believed that after 052D, China will accelerate its building of the 10,000-ton-class type 055D guided-missile destroyer to fortify its capability of "battling on the far sea".
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