China’s Navy will outnumber the largest competitor in the region — Japan — in the number of phased-array radar-equipped destroyers in 2018, if production continues on schedule.
On Dec. 22, China commissioned its fifth 052C destroyer, the Jinan, leaving one last ship of that type to be finished.
The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN’s) procurement of Luyang-class Type 052C/Ds and Type 055 guided-missile cruisers with phased-array radars will provide long range anti-aircraft warfare (AAW) support to four planned carrier strike groups. They will also provide coverage for high value units such as 20,000-ton Type 081 amphibious assault ships, said Tony Beitinger, vice president of market intelligence for AMI International.
“AMI anticipates that the PLAN will build: six Type 052Cs, eight 052Ds and six Type 055 cruisers. The 052Cs are already in the PLAN inventory while the 052Ds are under construction and will enter service by 2018. The new cruiser design should start construction by 2016 and conclude in 2024.”
Toshi Yoshihara, author of the book, “Red Star Over the Pacific,” said, excluding the US Navy, this buildup will “tilt the naval balance of power in maritime Asia.” The only two other Asian navies with warships of equivalent capability are Japan’s, with six phased-array radar-equipped destroyers, with plans to build two more, and the South Korean Navy, with three similar destroyers.
China’s new destroyer deployments will “significantly increase the PLAN’s ability to operate at distance, with its own AAW capability much improved,” said Bernard “Bud” Cole, author of the book, “The Great Wall at Sea.” It will make the PLAN more formidable in the face of possible opposition from Japan or other Asian naval and air forces, he said.