China to launch eighth Type 055 Destroyer next year

China is expected to launch an eighth guided-missile destroyer designed for the navy’s aircraft carrier strike groups later this year, according to reports on Chinese state run CCTV.

The vessel will complete the first group of Type 055 destroyers, but naval experts said it could take up to five years for all the warships to be combat-ready – normally a few years after they enter service – because of their advanced design.

The destroyer is being painted at a shipyard in Dalian where a contractor carries out much of China’s naval shipbuilding, indicating it is close to being launched, according to the reports posted on Weibo and WeChat.

The Chinese navy just received the seventh Type 055 destroyer in May. And with the first, the Nanchang, formally entering service in January – 2½ years after its launch – naval experts said it could take another three years before all eight are in service following their sea trials. The second is still undergoing trials after it was launched two years ago.

With a displacement of 12,000 tonnes, the Type 055 is the world’s second-most powerful destroyer after the US Navy’s DDG-1000, or Zumwalt class.

It was designed to guard the country’s next-generation Type 002 aircraft carrier, which has the world’s most advanced electromagnetic catapult systems.

The stealth destroyer can fire surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, land-attack cruise missiles and missile-launched anti-submarine torpedoes. 

However, Lu Li-Shih, a former instructor at Taiwan’s Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, said problems that could cause electromagnetic interference would need to be overcome, adding that the destroyers would play a role as air defence command centres.

“Unlike other destroyers equipped with complicated antenna devices on the masts, the Type 055 has the advanced enclosed integrated mast, which allows it to communicate with other platforms,” Lu said. “But that means more time is needed for them to go through complicated and comprehensive tests before they can join the navy.”

State media reported last month that some Chinese warships had been equipped with advanced 20-megawatt turbo generators that can power high-energy weapons like lasers and rail guns.

The reports did not confirm which ships had the powerful generators, but a military source close to the navy said they included the eighth Type 055 and some of its sister ships. The units will quadruple the power-generating capacity on the warships, making full electric propulsion possible.

As well as its aircraft carrier strike groups, China plans to form three amphibious assault groups, each including a Type 075 warship and a Type 055 destroyer equipped with upgraded high-energy cannons, according to a report on War Industry Black Technology, a social media platform run by Shenzhen-based Quantum Defence Cloud Technology, on Wednesday.

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said a decision had yet to be made on whether a second group of Type 055s would be developed because the new destroyers would first have to be tested and operated for some years.

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