Type-055 destroyer (Renhai-class cruiser) is a class of stealth guided missile destroyers (guided missile cruisers as per NATO standard) of 13000tons currently in service in the Chinese Navy. Type-055 Destroyer class considered one of the most advanced, heavily armed, and capable destroyers/cruisers in the World. It is a multi-mission design, the combination of sensors and weapons suggests a main role of area air defense, with anti-submarine warfare capabilities surpassing previous Chinese surface combatants.
The United States classifies these ships as cruisers. US Navy defines a cruiser as a large multi-mission surface combatant with flag facilities. This suggests the U.S. expects the Type 055 to fulfill a similar role as the Ticonderoga-class cruiser.
Development of Type-055 Destroyer
The People’s Liberation Army Navy was interested in a large destroyer from as early as the late-1960s. A development program, code-named “055”, initiated in 1976 was cancelled in 1983 after encountering insurmountable technical obstacles from industrial underdevelopment. For example, the required gas turbine power plants could neither be produced domestically, nor imported at acceptable prices.
In April 2014, an image emerged of a full-scale mock-up of the Type 055 superstructure with enclosed integrated mast for radar and other electronics – at the Chinese naval electronic testing range in Wuhan.
Construction of first ship of the class (Nanchang) began in 2014 at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai. The ship was commissioned on 12 January 2020. Its first public appearance was during the PLAN’s 70th anniversary parade on 23 April 2019.
Design & Stealth of Type-055 Destroyer
The Type 055 adopts a conventional flared hull with distinctive stealthy features including an enclosed bow, where mooring points, anchor chains and other equipment are hidden below decks. The bow armament adopts a similar configuration to the 052C/D, with the main gun located most anterior, followed by a 64-cell block of VLS, and the eleven-barrel H/PJ-11 30mm close in weapons system (CIWS). A continuous structure amidships increases internal volume and reduces radar cross-section. The smokestack design reduces both infrared signature and radar cross-section.
Chinese sources credit the design as being generally stealthy, with reduced radar, noise, infrared, and electromagnetic radiation signatures.
The main deckhouse is like the proven configuration that the preceding 052D adopts, with fixed four face phased array radars (PARs) arranged for overlapping 360-degree coverage. However, the mast atop the deckhouse is a more advanced integrated mast, with sensors and datalinks integrated into a single structure. Similarly, the amidships area and the smokestack is a continuous single structure extending from the main deckhouse. A continuous integrated structure not only provides additional volume for various uses (such as amidships RHIB davits) but also reduces deck clutter and the ship’s associated radar cross section. The single integrated smokestack is notable, as it appears to shield the exhausts from the ship’s gas turbines to a greater degree, likely to reduce infrared signatures and radar cross section.
Moving posteriorly, there is a 48-cell block of VLS, leading to the aft helicopter hangar structure featuring two helicopter hangars. A step structure atop this hangar was once suspected to possibly accommodate a volume search radar, but instead will likely be equipped with small dome or other electronics.
Sensors and Radars
Type 055 is equipped with four Type 346B Dragon Eye (C/S-band) AESA radars with a range of 450+km and X-band radar. The AESA radars allow ships and aircraft to radiate powerful radar signals while remaining stealthy and being more resistant to jamming. Unlike the predecessor models that use air cooling systems, the B version has a higher performance water cooling system. The main S-band array of the radar is sandwiched between two rows of X-band arrays. The X-band arrays effectively detect stealth air and surface targets.
The Type 346B panels are estimated to be 40% larger than the Type 052D destroyer’s Type 346A panels, for greater transmission power and sensitivity. Chinese sources claim the radar has anti-stealth capability and can be used to guide anti-satellite missiles.
It also has hull-mounted sonar, a towed array sonar (TAS) and a variable depth sonar (VDS).
Countermeasures & Electronics
The electronic warfare and active / passive countermeasures systems on board the ship include EW jammers, Type 726-4 decoy launchers, electronic support measures (ESM) system and electronic countermeasures (ECM) system. They are likely more advanced than those deployed on previous ships.
Chinese literature suggests that the Type 055 Cruiser can facilitate command management of a battlegroup and supporting elements. The command-and-control and battle management systems are likely comparable to contemporary PLAN systems. This reflect over a decade of intensive interest in information integration from the late 2000s.
A deployment port exists for variable depth and towed array sonar. The large bulbous bow likely contains a bow sonar; the Type 055 may mount a larger bow sonar than previous Chinese surface combatants.
Type 055 are powered by a combined gas turbine and gas turbine (COGAG) propulsion system, integrating four QC-280 gas turbines coupled to two propellers. Each gas turbine generates a maximum power output of 28MW. Additional power may be provided by six 5 MW QD-50 gas turbines.
Propulsion system enables the vessel to achieve a speed of more than 30k (56km/h) and a standard range of 5,000nmi (9300km).
The Type 055 Cruisers have a Displacement of around 13,000 tonnes (full load). The Length of cruiser is 180 m (590 ft 7 in), Beam of 20 m (65 ft 7 in) & Draught of 6.6 m (21 ft 8 in)
The ship can accommodate a crew of 300 people.
The primary armament of type 055 cruisers are missiles carried in 112-cell vertical launching system (VLS), 64 cells forward and 48 cells aft. The VLS is capable of hot and cold launches using concentric canisters. The longest variant, with 9-metre cells, is likely used.
- The Type 055 can carry HHQ-9 extended range surface-to-air missiles.
- It can carry YJ-18 anti-ship supersonic cruise missiles which have a range of 540km.
- It also carries nuclear capable CJ-10 land-attack cruise missiles having range of more than 1500km.
- The larger cells can also carry anti-ship ballistic missiles. The HQ-26 anti-ballistic missiles, which are currently under development, will soon be deployed to Type 055 cruisers.
- 1 × HQ-10 short-range SAM 24-cell launcher and missile-launched.
- The main gun is a 130 mm weapon. It is completed with the larger 11-barrelled Type 1130 CIWS.
- The anti-submarine warfare (ASW) is supported by Yu-8 anti-submarine rockets (ASROCs).
- It is armed with 324mm Yu-7 and Yu-11(latest variant) torpedoes launched from two triple torpedo tubes.
- It can carry helicopters (Harbin Z-9 & Changhe Z-18).
Future Variants Type-055 Destroyer
Future variants of Type 055 cruisers will be armed with lasers or electromagnetic railguns and hypersonic cruise missiles.
On 9th April 2022 PLA Navy released a video of firing of YJ-21 Hypersonic cruise missile from Type 055 cruiser. Range of YJ-21 is not disclosed but it is assumed that range can be anywhere between 1000-1500km.
Author: Ali Hassan