Type 055 destroyer at Dalian shipyard
Although China classifies it as a destroyer, the Type 055 is actually a guided missile cruiser, with a length of 180 m, a full displacement of 13,000 tons. Type 055 is “symbolic” for the Chinese Navy, while physically, it is just another large destroyer like the others, with a stealthy shape, some phased array radars and more than 100 vertical launch silos.
The Type 055 is built with many new technologies for its extremely small radar reflection area, making it difficult to detect from long distance. This gives a situational awareness advantage over the ships of the West, Japan and Russia.
In terms of electronic systems, the main sensor on the Type 055 destroyer is four Type 346B Dragon Eye (C/S-band) electronic radar arrays arranged in all four corners, providing comprehensive surveillance up to 360 degrees.
In terms of weapons, Type 055 is equipped with a multi-purpose vertical launcher system researched and manufactured by China. The number of missiles is up to 136, including types of air-to-air, surface-to-surface, anti-ship and anti-submarine.
The YJ-18 anti-ship missile on the Type 055 is the equivalent of Russia’s domestic Kalibr. The destroyer’s HHQ-9B air defence missile reaches a distance of 200 km, and is directed to fire that the Type 346B radar should give very high accuracy.
In terms of close-range defense, the Type 055’s HHQ-10 missile has a very good ability to destroy low-flying targets. The Chinese warship can also launch CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles, HQ-26 intercontinental ballistic missiles and CY-5 anti-submarine missiles.
With dual hangar, Type 055 can carry up to 2 Z-20 medium helicopters for anti-submarine missions, the upcoming plan for this helicopter line will have a version similar to the US MH-60R Sea Hawk, helping to expand the long-range combat capability of the Type 055.
It has been suggested that future variants may be armed with lasers or electromagnetic railguns. Since the current design does not have integrated electric propulsion, installation of integrated electric propulsion will be required for the ship to meet power requirements in the future
Most importantly, with the plan to build four more Type 055s, it seems that the Chinese Navy is looking to build two more carrier battle groups in the future.
Even according to some predictions, the PLAN will put into service up to 6 aircraft carriers by the 2030s, ie, the number of Type 055 destroyers will increase to 12 respectively.