Surface Forces: China Chases Burke

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September 24, 2010: It's not a rumor. China is definitely building a large destroyer, similar in size to American, Japanese or South Korean ships. China currently has two heavy destroyer classes; the 4,800 ton Type 52A/B/C and the 7,000 ton Type 51. The new ship is revealed in two recent photographs. The Chinese also have four 7,900 ton Sovremenny class destroyers they bought from Russia (which only has five of its own.) These pictures show a considerably larger ship, displacing over 10,000 tons.

The existing Type 52s, also known as the Luhai, is designed for surface combat, carrying sixteen YJ-82/C-802 missile. The anti-aircraft systems were improved in the Type 52B and Type 52C, going from a mixture of Russian and Chinese systems to all Chinese radar and missiles in the Type 52C. The Type 51 is an anti-aircraft ship, equipped with Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.

The new destroyer would be large enough to carry long range (over 400 kilometers) anti-ship missiles. Thus it might be designated the Type 52D, but will likely get an entirely new numeric type number. It appears that the new ship will have stealthy (harder to detect on radar) features, and will likely have the most modern electronics available.

As Japanese and South Korea have done, China appears to be following the American lead in destroyer design. The principal American destroyer is the Burke class. This is a design that is the culmination of over half a century of World War II and Cold War destroyer design experience. Even after the Burke was designed, in the 1980s, the design evolved. The first Burkes were 8,300 ton ships, while the latest ones, laden with more gear, and smaller crews, are 10,000 ton ships (what heavy cruisers weighed in World War II). With a top speed of nearly 50 kilometers an hour, their main armament is 90 vertical launch tubes flush with the deck, that can contain anti-aircraft, anti-ship, anti-missile or cruise missiles. There is also a 127mm (5 inch) gun, two 20mm anti-missile autocannon, six torpedo tubes and two helicopters. The Burkes were well thought out, sturdy and they got the job done. They became irreplaceable, and thus this class of warships will last more than half a century.

 


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