BEIJING, Aug. 15 (ChinaMil) -- The guided-missile destroyer Shenzhen (Type 051B) of the PLA Navy that used to be the flagship of the South China Sea Fleet recently completed the upgrade of its overall weapon systems. The photos of the upgraded vessel drew attentions from the west.
The website of Britain's Janes Defence Weekly said on August 10 that the ship "is set to return to operations with the People's Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN's) South China Sea Fleet."
It is reported that the guided-missile destroyer Shenzhen with a displacement of 6,000 tons started service in 1999 and was the most up-to-date capital ship at that time. It "has deployed on a considerable number of overseas visits" and was reputed as China's No.1 warship.
The destroyer is also one of the few capital ships in the PLA Navy that can carry two helicopters, but as new-generation naval vessels have been successively commissioned, its performance gradually fell behind and it began an all-round revamp.
According to Janes Defence Weekly, "the most notable change is the replacement of the HHQ-7 short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) launcher with a 32-cell vertical launch system for firing the medium-range HHQ-16 SAM." The latter has become the standard configuration on Chinese Navy's new-generation capital ships for longer firing range and faster response.
Besides, "Other changes include the replacement of the four 37 mm twin anti-aircraft guns with two Type 1130 close-in weapon systems, and the upgrade of the surface and air search radars."
"The rotating planar phased-array antenna has been moved from the aft to the forward mast, which will remove the blind arc it would previously have exhibited. The sixteen deck-mounted launch canisters for the YJ-83 anti-ship missiles have been retained."
The report analyzed that "the quarterdeck has been fully enclosed and new apertures in the transom are indicators that torpedo decoy and towed array sonar systems have been added."
" It is not known if it will continue to operate as a command ship," according to the Janes' report.