China’s Upgraded 052DL Warship has Anti-stealth Radar, Longer Helicopter Deck

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China sailed a newer version of its 052D guided-missile destroyer equipped with new meter wave radar to detect stealth warplanes besides a longer helicopter deck to accommodate the ship-borne version of its Z-20 attack/utility helicopter.

The upgraded destroyer designated as 052DL and named ‘Zibo’ was seen participating in Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLA-N) drills recently in the East China Sea which state media reported Sunday was its first public appearance.

According to brief details released in a statement and photos posted by the PLA East China Sea Fleet on Friday, the drills featured the guided missile destroyer ‘Zibo,’ which has the hull number 156, among several other warships.

The ‘Zibo’ which entered PLA-N fleet on January 12 this year, is an improved version of the Type 052D destroyer, which is dubbed the Type 052DL, according to an article on the website of the government of Zibo, the city in East China’s Shandong Province the destroyer is named after.

The drills in which the Type 052DL ‘Zibo’ participated in included air and missile defenses, attacks on surface vessels, and joint anti-submarine operations, the PLA Daily reported on Sunday.

Compared to the original Type 052D, the Type 052DL has a longer helicopter deck, and is equipped with a new, meter wave long-range radar on its after-mast, the article said, noting the improvements enable the destroyer to carry China’s most advanced Z-20 ship-born helicopter, and to better cope with hostile stealth warplanes.

Not many details are available about the ship-borne anti-stealth aircraft radar. Images released by state media show the ship from afar. However a wider radar mast in the Type 052DL, compared to the one on the Type 052D is clearly discernable.

The helicopter platform in the Type 052DL appears to be longer as compared to the Type 052D.

The Z-20 helicopter was publicly unveiled at the National Day parade in October 2019. The chopper’s large cockpit windows, besides two extra windows on the floor of the cockpit, give pilots a wide view while landing in the confined spaces of an aircraft deck.

Western media has dubbed it as a ‘copycat’ Black Hawk chopper of the US Military. It is capable of transporting troops, can carry cannons and missiles. It can serve as a forward reconnaissance post and identify targets for the ship’s long-range missiles.