Expert: China's future destroyer more advanced than USS Zumwalt

China Military Online
Zhang Tao

Snapshot from CCTV report: photo of the Type-055 destroyer published by U.S. media

BEIJING, September 1 (ChinaMil) -- The U.S. Navy Knowledge Online (NKO) website recently reported that the Type 055 destroyer, the PLA Navy's first surface main battle vessel with the displacement of more than 10,000 tons, is under construction with fast progress.

Du Wenlong, a senior researcher at the PLA Academy of Military Science, said in an interview with CCTV's Asia Today that general utilization is the future trend of surface vessels.

If China were really developing the Type 055 destroyer, it would be the beginning of China's large universal platform, and it would employ cutting-edge technologies more advanced than the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000).

According to U.S. media, the photo taken in October 2015 showed that the first module of the Type 055 destroyer was in shape, and its stern module appeared in May 2016, which was probably the takeoff/landing platform and hangar for ship-borne helicopters.

Photos taken in late July and early August this year indicated that a Shanghai-based shipyard was assembling the vessel body. The U.S. media therefore conjectured that China's first Type 055 destroyer might enter water in early 2017 and be delivered to the PLA Navy in 2018 at soonest.

However, the Chinese military never responded to rumors about the Type 055 destroyer.

CCTV reported that the PLA Navy's main surface vessels include destroyers and frigates, and the most advanced Type-052D destroyer has a displacement of less than 10,000 tons. Therefore, the Type-055 destroyer has drawn close attention, and some U.S. media even called it a cruiser.

In the U.S. Navy, cruiser is on a higher administrative level than destroyer and a cruiser captain is equivalent to the commander of a destroyer squadron. More importantly, cruiser is the escort of aircraft carrier. When a carrier battle group sets out on the sea, destroyers and submarines can leave the group to act independently, but cruiser has to be with the aircraft carrier all the time.

According to Du Wenlong, cruiser, destroyer and frigate, the three buddies on the sea, are being integrated and large universal platforms may replace all combat vessels in the future.

"General utilization is the trend. The PLA Navy is exploring universal surface equipment. If China were really developing the Type-055 destroyer, it would be the beginning of China's large universal platform, and when it entered water, it would be a major milestone for the Chinese Navy," Du said.

The NKO website held that as the Chinese economy develops rapidly, its overseas interests are expanding continuously. Since China has no overseas military base yet, it is in urgent need of larger surface main battle vessels because larger tonnage means longer stay on the sea.

Based on previous analyses by U.S. media, the Type-052C "China Aegis" that's currently in service with a displacement of about 7,000 tons is equipped with 48 vertical missile launching units, the Type-052D has a displacement of about 7,500 tons with 64 vertical launching units, and the new-generation Type-055 destroyer will have a displacement of over 10,000 tons with 90-100 vertical launching units.

More importantly, the current Type-052C is only able to carry out air defense, anti-vessel and anti-submarine tasks while the Type-055 has considerably improved ground strike capability. Expert said the new-generation surface vessel will have "revolutionary" progress. It will be better able to protect aircraft carrier with enhanced combat capability.

According to Du Wenlong, China does need large multi-purpose surface vessel like Type-055 destroyer to serve as the "armed guard" of aircraft carrier. The current Type-052C and Type-052D cannot serve general and multiple purposes, leaving room for improvement.

If the PLA Navy were to have 10,000-ton-class large destroyer, its overall combat capability would be significantly enhanced. Not only will the traditional anti-ship, air-defense and anti-missile capabilities be reinforced, but it will also be able to carry out ground strike and better protect the aircraft carrier.

Besides, Du stressed, China's future 10,000-ton-class destroyer is sure to have sea-based midcourse anti-missile capability. That will be an improvement of current "China Aegis" destroyers and the only way for China's large destroyers to become more mature.

Du also pointed out that developed on a high starting point, China's 10,000-ton-class destroyer has late-mover's advantages and will employ cutting-edge technologies more advanced than those on the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000).

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