Tension continues to grow in the Taiwan Strait, with China showing off military muscle after the controversial visit of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, to the island formerly known as Formosa. In addition to maneuvers with ballistic missiles and the deployment of fighters and spy planes, the People’s Liberation Army has a powerful ace up its sleeve. Its about Nanchang, the first Renhai-class (Type 055) super destroyer, already in the vicinity of Taiwan as confirmed by images broadcast on August 1 by a Chinese state chain.
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It is these images that allow us to learn a little more in depth about the wide catalog of weapons and countermeasures of the ship, considered by Chinese experts as “the most powerful in the world”, above the American USS Zumwalt. While the latter is specialized in ground attacks, the Nanchang is an amphibious assault ship, capable of destroying hostile targets on land, sea and in the air. The Nanchang is also 25% larger than equivalent US Navy Ticonderoga-class cruisers.
“This ship has a sophisticated design, stealth features, radars and a large inventory of missiles. She is bigger and more powerful than most American, Japanese and South Korean destroyers,” she told the CNN Timothy Heath, principal analyst at RAND Corp, the thinktank America’s most influential According to the Chinese newspaper Global Timesits main mission before the recent military escalation was precisely to dissuade foreign intervention in the event that China carried out an attack against Taiwan.
The Nanchang is the materialization of a long-standing wish of the People’s Liberation Army Navywhich had been seeking to build a large destroyer since the late 1960s. A failed development program, called 055, was canceled in 1983 due to insufficient industrial development in the country, which prevented the construction of gas turbines designed to power boat.
A first full-scale mock-up of the Type 055 was shown as early as 2014 at China’s Naval Electronics Proving Ground in Wuhan, but it was not until June 2017 that the first of its kind was launched, the Nanchang, which entered service in January 2020.
with some more 180 meters long and a total displacement of between 12,000 and 13,000 tons, the Type 055 class destroyers use four gas turbines generating a total of 150,000 horsepower. Thanks to them, it reaches a cruising speed of 30 knots, the equivalent of 56 km/h, and its large dimensions allow it to accommodate more than 300 crew members on board.
These warships have a real arsenal on board. Its biggest asset is its 112-cell vertical launch system (VLS).. The feature that differentiates this system from its US counterparts is that it uses larger cells, to be able to launch missiles both hot and cold. Hot-launched missiles are those that ignite their main rocket while still inside the launcher, while cold-launched missiles are ejected before the rocket is ignited, often using a compressed gas generator.
🇨🇳PLAN Type 055 Nanchang (101) destroyer detailed top shots
(Via wb/利刃斩海飞剪艏) pic.twitter.com/dqIHhHuapJ
— Jesus Roman (@jesusfromman) August 1, 2022
This quirk allows the Nanchang and destroyers of her class to be loaded with a great diversity of missile types to deal with air, land and sea threats. Among them would be the YJ-18 and CJ-10 anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles, the YJ-83 anti-ship cruise missile, the HQ-16 and HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, as well as the Yu-Gi rocket-assisted torpedo. 8.
China is currently developing the necessary technology for other missiles, such as ballistic missiles, to be compatible with the VLS of its super destroyers. In the future, the presence of lasers and electromagnetic railguns for new variants of the ship is also not ruled out.
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To these long-range weapons, the Nanchang adds a 130mm H/PJ-38 naval gun in a turret on the bow, as well as with a short-range weapon system of 11 30mm cannons in front of the main superstructure. Another missile launcher with a capacity for 24 projectiles, in this case short-range surface-to-air (HQ-10), is located on top of the helicopter hangars and is intended for defense against anti-ship missiles.
Both the hangars and a large space in the form of a flight deck offer a large capacity for house Harbin Z-9 and Z-20F utility helicopters, which are mainly used for transportation and emergencies. According to him Global Timesmodified versions of these aircraft could also be tasked with anti-submarine warfare operations.
On the defensive
One of the main characteristics of the Nanchang is its stealth Capability, provided by the hull and the different coatings that allow it to avoid being detected by radar. And it is that the Nanchang not only stands out for its offensive power, but also has numerous countermeasures.
For example, to deal with maritime targets such as submarines, torpedoes or combat divers, this destroyer has four Type 726 series defensive launchers, each with 24 cells. In them the crew can load flares, radar blinding cartridges, active decoys and anti-submarine rockets with small depth charges.
One of the key pieces of the ship, apart from its supposed electronic warfare (EW) and electronic support measures (ESM) capabilities, of which Chinese secrecy has not revealed any details, is its Type 364B Dragon Eye S-band multifunction radar. This system is what allows the ship to detect, track and categorize hostile targets, radars and other signal emitters.
The detection systems are completed with an X-band radar, which is responsible for guiding weapons and missiles. Located on the mast built into the superstructure of the Nanchang, it also serves as a Precise tracking of smaller, stealthier and faster targets such as drones or small boats. The Type 055 class additionally feature basic navigational radars, bow-mounted sonars, and electro-optical and infrared sensor systems.
At the moment, China has six of these warships in service, but its plans are to reach have a fleet of 16 super destroyers in the next few years. Its main function is to escort aircraft carriers such as the Type 003, the last to leave the Shanghai shipyards, but its power, its long-range missiles and the versatility of its equipment make it one of the greatest threats to Taiwan… and also for the United States.
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