The Type 055 destroyer Nanchang, hull number 101 of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, is the most advanced and effective surface combatant. And recently, its photos have flooded the internet giving a top-down view of the warship’s armaments, defense systems, and other systems in fine detail.
In 2020, the Nanchang ship—the first Type 055 to be constructed—started operations. Since then, at least six more warships have been built, and more are in the works. In the future, it’s anticipated that at least 16 will join the war fleet of the PLA Navy, according to Chinese media sources.
Instead of being categorized as a destroyer, the Type 055 design, commonly referred to as the Renhai class, is a cruiser. It is approximately 12,000 and 13,000 tonnes in displacement and 590 and a half feet long.
If we take a good look at the photographs, we can see Nanchang’s 112 vertical launch system (VLS) cells. This has fewer VLS cells than a Ticonderoga class cruiser but more than a Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (96). (122 cells). This bad boy can launch more missiles than the fast destroyers of the Zumwalt class of the US Navy (80 cells). The Type 055’s VLS configuration is notably different from the Mk 41 and Mk 57 systems seen aboard US Navy ships of the current generation.
Furthermore, various air-to-surface and surface-to-surface missile types are expected to be carried by the Type 055’s VLS arrays. The YJ-18 and CJ-10 land-attack and anti-ship cruise missile groups, the YJ-83 anti-ship cruise missile, the HQ-16, and HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles, and the Yu-8 anti-ship cruise missile are all believed to be capable of being fired by the system.
Type 055 also features an 11-barrel 30mm H/PJ-11 close-in weapon system (CIWS) in front of the main structure and a H/PJ-38 130mm naval gun in a turret at the bow. In addition, the ship’s helicopter hangars may be able to house the PLAN’s new Z-20Fs, which are located at the stern and are topped by a 24-cell HQ-10 short-range surface-to-air missile launcher.
The superstructure houses four Type 726-series defense launchers. The photos of Nanchang show two on either side of the aft section of the ship’s superstructure. These 24-cell launchers may fire flares, active decoys equipped with tiny radiofrequency jammers, anti-submarine rockets with small depth charges, and cartridges containing radar-blinding chaff.
Also, the Type 055s have specific electronic support measures (ESM) and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities. Therefore, the system can identify, track, and classify hostile military radars and other signal emitters.
The EW/ESM systems, which should not be mixed with those connected to its Type 364B Dragon Eye active electronic-scanned array multi-function radar, are fixed-face arrays mounted on the lower half of the sides of the main forward structure. They might allow the ship to fire electronic missiles and identify track and other signal emitters that could be hostile radars.
An X-band radar that uses fixed-face scanned array antennas on the ship’s integrated mast works in conjunction with the S-band Dragon Eye radar to provide more accurate tracking of smaller and faster targets and missile guidance. The Type 055s also have electro-optical and infrared sensor systems, primary navigation radars, bow-mounted and towed sonars, and other sonars.
Overall, the modernity of Type 055 is highlighted by this high-resolution top-down image of Nanchang. These ships are a prime illustration of the PLAN’s and the PLA’s recent attempts to improve their capabilities and broaden their capacity to project power.
Nanchang was the first Type 055 to sail as a carrier escort in 2021. Given the growing carrier fleet of the PLAN, this is probably the main objective for the entire class. Notably, PLAN seems to be sending more Type 055 aircraft to participate in dangerous and aggressive maneuvers directed directly at Taiwan.
Of course, it should be hammered home that the Type 055 has not yet proven any of its alleged combat prowess. Regardless, we anticipate seeing more of these ships in the future.