- During the parade, which was shrouded in fog, mist and rain, the Chinese navy showed off the Nanchang, the first of the new generation of Type 055 destroyers.
- The new destroyers are the most heavily armed of China's surface combatants, with 112 universal vertical launch system cells capable of firing anti-air, anti-ship, anti-submarine, and land-attack missiles.
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China showed off a new naval weapon, the first of a new generation of hard-hitting destroyers, at a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy on Tuesday.
During the celebratory maritime parade, the Nanchang (101), a 10,000-ton Type 055 stealth destroyer, sailed onto the scene, Reuters reported .
The ship is armed with 112 vertical launch cells with the ability to fire HHQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missiles, and CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles. The main gun is a H/PJ-38 130 mm gun, but there are reports that this vessel could eventually be equipped with a railgun. The vessel uses X and S-band radars, allowing it to track stealthy objects of various sizes.
The destroyer, technically large enough to be classified as a cruiser, has a substantial payload capacity that trails the US Navy's Ticonderoga-class cruisers but exceeds the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which only have 96 vertical launch cells. The ship's primary rival is said to be the Zumwalt-class destroyers, naval vessels that continue to suffer from a variety of developmental problems.
The Nanchang, which was launched in 2017, started sea trials last August, the China Daily reported . A Beijing-based military analyst, Wei Dongxu, told the Global Times that the public debut at the fleet review Tuesday indicates that the vessel is now combat ready.
Additional Type 055 destroyers are in the works. A second ship was launched in April 2018, and two more were launched last July. These vessels, like the Nanchang, are expected to eventually become heavily armed escort ships for China's emerging carrier force.
While the Liaoning, a Soviet heavy aircraft-carrying crusier refitted to serve as China's first aircraft carrier, was present at the naval parade in Qingdao Tuesday, the first domestically-produced aircraft carrier, which just completed its fifth sea trials, remained at the shipyard in Dalian.
A total of 32 vessels and 39 aircraft participated in China's celebratory fleet review. Among the other vessels on display was an apparent modified version of China's Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. China also showed off a new type of conventional submarine.
China's naval modernization is being watched carefully in Washington as the US shifts its focus from the counterinsurgency fight to potential high-end conflict. The Army, Navy, and Marines are all increasingly looking at the kind of anti-ship weaponry required to punch holes in China's fleet, a necessary capability as China's strengthens its military.
Chinese media declared the Type 055 destroyer a "symbol of [the] Chinese navy's development."
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