China's Type 055 destroyer as good as US Zumwalt-class destroyer?

China Military
Zhang Tao

BEIJING, Feb. 24 (ChinaMil) -- An American media recently published an article saying that the new Type 055 guided-missile cruiser China is developing now is as good as America's Zumwalt-class stealth guided-missile destroyer with sci-fi appearance. This comment drew attention from various sides immediately.

Public information shows that Type 055 destroyer is a new-generation 10,000-ton-class destroyer currently being developed by the PLA Navy, which features large displacement, high speed, great cruising ability, long endurance and sound global seaworthiness.

Li Jie, researcher with the PLA Naval Military Academic Research Institute, expressed that information from various sides shows that the Type 055 guided-missile destroyer boasts outstanding overall performance and represents the highest level of Chinese surface vessels today.

However, Li said, it's hard to compare the Zumwalt-class destroyer with Type 055 because they have different combat functions: the former is responsible for major fire strike against targets and facilities, while Type 055 undertakes multiple combat functions and is also responsible for escorting aircraft carrier battle group.

Some media reported that the development of Type 055 destroyer is a milestone for the PLA Navy. It is even more significant than the development of Type 001A aircraft carrier.

According to Li Jie, Type 055 destroyer has a full load displacement of 13,000 tons and will be China's largest destroyer if commissioned.

Second, it has outstanding stealth performance thanks to various stealth designs and comprehensive stealth means. Its body also adopts stealth design, and the radar has a very small cross section with low infrared radiation, small electromagnetic radiation and low noise.

Third, it is equipped with a number of weapons. Being able to carry more than 100 vertical launching missiles of various types at the same time, including anti-ship missile, air-defense missile, anti-submarine missile and even long-range ground-attack cruising missile, Type 055 destroyer can attack targets 1,000-2,000km away, indicating a massive enhancement of ground attack capability.

Meanwhile, the 130mm single-barrel shipboard main-gun is strong at short-range ground attack and at attacking other targets as well. Type 055 also has anti-missile capability.

Fourth, it adopts double-band radar and has S-band active phased array radar (APAR) system and X-band small phased array radar system, which result in a strong capability of detecting medium-range and short-range targets.

At last, Type 055 is very good at capturing and processing information and can integrate various information receiving from the space, air, water surface and underwater.

The PLA Navy has decided that aircraft carrier battle group will be the main direction of surface vessel development, so new vessels will all be developed based on the needs of the battle group, including the design and construction of Type 055 destroyer.

"Type 055 guided-missile destroyer carries medium-long-range and medium-short range air-defense missiles, which can significantly improve its overall air defense capability. It also has a strong anti-submarine capability, so it is much more able to protect aircraft carrier battle group than the Type-052D destroyer currently in service", Li Jie said.

"In addition to escorting aircraft carrier battle group, Type 055 destroyer is also able to head up an independent multi-purpose marine combat taskforce and carry out air-defense, anti-submarine and anti-ship missions," he added.

The reporter noticed that this wasn't the first time that western media call China's Type 055 guided-missile destroyer a cruiser.

Regarding this, Li Jie replied that in terms of tonnage alone, Type 055 is larger than many serving cruisers. America's Ticonderoga-class cruiser, for instance, has a full load displacement of less than 10,000 tons. As a matter of fact, destroyer and cruiser aren't that different today, and most countries don't even develop cruiser anymore.

Going forward, destroyers will have ever larger tonnage and stronger functions with particular strength in a specific aspect, whereas cruiser has limited functions and is not as flexible as destroyer when carrying out missions.

"The fact that western countries call China's Type 055 destroyer a cruiser indicates that they are looking at China's military development with colored glasses and magnifying the function and role of China's equipment. It's a manifestation of the China Threat theory," Li Jie added.

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