Inadequate fighter planes aboard China’s 1980s-vintage Liaoningaircraft carrier, as well as on the country’s first domestically made carrier, can seriously limit the might of the fledging Chinese carrier strike groups. That is why the People’s Liberation Army has gone to great lengths to develop and construct ace guided-missile destroyers to remedy the problem and turn PLA carriers into fortresses at sea. While the homemade Type 002 carrier is set to stretch its legs in a maiden sea trial rumored for February or March, the second ship of the Type 055 destroyer family earmarked to escort the carrier is also taking shape in the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, and its drydock will soon be flooded for the first time, Japan’s Sankei Shimbun reports. Modular assembly for the third and fourth Type 055s has been revved up and construction of the second batch of four extra modified sea bases has been scheduled for the Shanghai facility as well as the Dalian Shipyard. Each carrier strike group will have two such multi-role monster destroyers, measuring 183 meters in length and 22 meters in width with a displacement of 13,500 tons at full load, which was last matched in Asia by warships launched by the Imperial Japanese Navy before 1945. Armored with a total of 112 firepower units and vertical launch systems, the versatile destroyer has air-defense, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities, as well as sea-land warfare, thanks to the surface-to-air HQ-9B and HQ-10 missiles, YJ-18A anti-ship and land-attack missiles, and the newly developed Yu-8 anti-submarine missiles that will form the backbone of the Type 055’s well-rounded assault capabilities. It can also work in concert with Type 052C/D destroyers, the 093B nuclear submarine and 054B frigate as a command ship, Global Times reported, quoting a PLA admiral. Type 055 destroyers could potentially rival the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, the first built around the Aegis Combat System, and the only US destroyers in service until the Zumwalt-class became active in 2016.
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