China plans to have a fleet of 8 Type 055 destroyers, its most powerful naval vessel which was showcased during the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s 70th anniversary on Tuesday in Qingdao.
While four have been built, four more are planned to be constructed, state media reported. The first Type 055 has been christened as the ‘Nanchang.’
Displacing more than 10,000 tons, the Type 055 is a 180-meter-long, 20-meter-wide guided missile destroyer with 112 vertical launch missile cells capable of launching missiles such as surface-to-air, anti-ship, land-attack and anti-submarine missiles, according to media reports. There are plans of the destroyer being deployed for anti-ballistic missile operations.
"Should the PLA Navy decide to hold another maritime parade in 2029 to mark its 80th anniversary, people may see the three aircraft carrier combat groups with six to eight Type 055 destroyers," Xu Guangyu a senior consultant at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association said.
The number of vertical launch missile cells is an important indicator of how powerful a warship is. China's Type 052D destroyer has 64 vertical launch missile cells, which is nearly half that of Type 055 destroyer.
US' Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and US' Ticonderoga-class cruiser have 96 and122 respectively, according to media reports. Some experts consider the Type 055 a cruiser instead of a destroyer.
"The Type 055 destroyer can see farther with its active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system in comparison to the previous destroyers and deal with targets faster, acting as an information center in a fleet," Wei Dongxu, a military expert, said.
A perfect aircraft carrier combat group can me formed by two Type 055s, a submarine, some smaller destroyers and frigates, according to Xu Guangyu, a senior consultant at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.