Third-generation warships to be commissioned to whole navy
(Source: China Military Online) 2015-01-26
File photo: New 052C/D destroyers of the PLA Navy parked in a dockyard wharf.
BEIJING, January 26 (ChinaMil) -- A piece of news online has recently drawn much attention. It is reported that the Hudong Shipyard launched 3 large and medium-size surface warships simultaneously at one dock on the afternoon of Jan 22, 2015, including one 054A frigate, one 815G electronic reconnaissance ship, and one 071A amphibious dock landing ship.
This is just a miniature of the new warships commissioned into the Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLAN).
After the new guided missile destroyer "Xi'an" and the new guided missile frigate "Yangzhou" were commissioned, a destroyer flotilla of the East China Sea Fleet of the PLAN becomes the second navy troop that has completed the equipment update for the home-made third-generation destroyers and frigates. The reporter learned that other destroyer flotillas of the East China Sea Fleet are also updating their equipment gradually.
The new guided missile frigate "Huanggang" was commissioned to a destroyer flotilla of the East China Sea Fleet on January 16, 2015. This is the second new warship that joined the flotilla within one month. The new guided missile destroyer "Ji'nan" was commissioned on December 22, 2014.
Another new guided missile destroyer "Xi'an" is going to be commissioned to the PLA Navy, and the new guided missile frigate "Yangzhou" will also be commissioned in 2015, according to sources.
According to the standard configuration of "four destroyers and four frigates for a destroyer fleet" as indicated by most of news currently, a destroyer fleet of the East China Sea Fleet of the PLA Navy equipped with four "China Aegis" warships will be the second troop that has completed the equipment update for the third-generation destroyers and frigates
According to public reports, three latest China-made 052C guided missile destroyers were commissioned successively to a destroyer flotilla located in Zhoushan from January 2013 to the end of 2014, namely "Changchun", "Zhengzhou" and "Ji'nan" respectively.
As the third-generation China-made guided missile destroyer of the PLAN, the 052C class is equipped with active phased array radars, and is also called the "China Aegis" by the public. Its missile vertical launching system is good at long-range detection and area air defense operation.
A total of six 052C guided missile destroyers were produced for this class. The first ship "Lanzhou" has been put into service in September 2005, and was commissioned to the South China Sea Fleet of the PLAN together with the second ship "Haikou". The other four are all commissioned to the East China Sea Fleet of the PLAN.
While the destroyers are being updated, the frigates of the destroyer flotilla under the East China Sea Fleet are also updated, and will be replaced with the latest 054A guided missile frigates.
The guided missile frigates "Yiyang", "Changzhou" and "Huanggang" have been successively commissioned since 2010, and another one called "Yangzhou" will be commissioned in 2015.
The 054A guided missile frigate is the first type of area air defense frigate independently produced by the PLAN. With a full-load displacement of more than 4,000 tons and a strong capability in long-range detection and air defense operation, it is a new-generation main combat warship of the PLAN.
Therefore, among the three major Fleets of China, the two major destroyer flotillas of the East China Sea Fleet of the PLAN have become the navy troops that have been equipped with the third-generation warships completely.
Another destroyer flotilla of the East China Sea Fleet of the PLAN, founded in 2000, became the first troop that is equipped with the third-generation warships in 2008. But four main combat destroyers of the destroyer flotilla are not China-made.
The flotilla introduced four "Modern-Class" destroyers from Russia, namely the "Hangzhou" destroyer, "Fuzhou" destroyer, "Taizhou" destroyer and "Ningbo" destroyer respectively from the end of the 1990s to the beginning of this century. The SA-N-7 intermediate-range ship-to-air missile deployed on the four destroyers enabled the surface warship taskforce of the PLAN to have certain area air defense capability for the first time.
In terms of frigates, the flotilla is the earliest navy troop that is completed equipped with new China-made frigates. At present, two 054 frigates are in service. The first frigate "Ma'anshan" and the second frigate "Wenzhou" were commissioned to the flotilla in 2005.
The 054A class frigates which were equipped with brand new weapon systems in 2008 begin to be put into service on a large scale. The "Xuzhou" frigate and "Zhoushan" frigate were commissioned to the flotilla in 2008. The reporter also learned that the destroyer flotillas of other Fleets of the PLAN are also carrying out the "equipment update action". A destroyer flotilla of the South China Sea Fleet of the PLAN is the first troop that has replaced its warships completed with the latest China-made equipment.
The flotilla was equipped with the 052B guided missile destroyers "Guangzhou" and "Wuhan" and the 052C destroyers "Lanzhou" and "Haikou" when it was set up.
In terms of frigates, it began replacement with the 054A frigate from 2012, and had received "Liuzhou", "Hengshui", "Sanya" and "Yueyang" frigates by the end of 2013.
At present, the "Guangzhou" and "Wuhan" destroyers of the flotilla have been transferred to another destroyer flotilla of the South China Sea Fleet of the PLAN. The first ship "Kunming" and the second ship "Changsha" of the 052D model have taken the place of them.
As the most advanced destroyers that China has ever built, the 052D destroyers are equipped with such advanced technologies as advanced radars and general vertical launching, representing the top level of the large surface warships of the PLAN.
In addition, a destroyer flotilla under the North China Sea Fleet of the PLAN will also usher in new members.
Compared with other destroyer flotillas, the flotilla is slightly slow in equipment update, with its destroyers still being the first-generation ships and its frigates being the second-generation ships.
However, news shows that the 054A frigate "Daqing" is about to be commissioned to the flotilla, marking the kick-off of equipment update for this flotilla.
"This indicates that the third-generation China-made equipment will become the main strength of the PLAN at present," said Zhang Junshe, researcher from Institute of Military Academic Research of the PLAN.
Zhang said that the third-generation capital surface warships of the PLAN, such as the 052C guided missile destroyer, has a water displacement of 6,000 to 7,000 tons, and is equipped with the active phased array radars and vertically launched air defense missile system that is similar to America's "Aegis" system.
With a comprehensive combat capability and strong air-defense, antisubmarine and anti-ship capabilities, this model may perform the tasks of area air defense operation and air defense control for the fleet, added Zhang Junshe.
In terms of the performance differences between the third-generation capital equipment of the PLAN and those of America and Japan, Zhang Junshe believed that the 052C guided missile destroyer has smaller tonnage than America's "Arleigh Burke" destroyer, Japan's Kongo-class destroyer and its latest Atago-class destroyer.
However, the comprehensive combat capability of China's third-generation home-made guided missile destroyers has improved a lot. The combat capability of the 052D guided missile destroyer and the number of missiles that it carries will basically match that of Japan's Kongo-class destroyer in the future.
With a tonnage of more than 4,000 tons, the 054A missile frigate has a good stealth performance and strong capability in the area air defense operation, ending the history of weak air defense capability for the frigates, said Zhang Junshe.
Zhang Junshe believed that with the advanced performance, the 054A frigate of the PLAN is much more powerful than America's Perry-class frigate, and is also stronger than France's Lafayette-class frigate.
However, America is now eliminating frigates. Coastal combat ships, with a water displacement of about 3,000 tons like that of frigates, are being used to take the place of frigates mainly for coastal operations.
Such warships are mainly used for antisubmarine operations and special operations. Having neither a strong air defense operation capability nor strong anti-ship missiles, and equipped with short-range air-defense missiles, they are not comparable to 054A.
With regard to China's vigorous development of frigates, Zhang Junshe explained that frigates and destroyers have different construction costs and take on different missions. Missile frigates are mainly used for short-range protection and antisubmarine purposes, and meanwhile take on the air defense and anti-ship operation tasks.