Tuesday, March 5, 2024

In 3 years, China has produced 3 times more destroyers than the United States and its allies in the Pacific theater

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The Chinese military naval industry launched, on Sunday, August 31, 2020, simultaneously the 8th Type 55 heavy destroyer and the 25th Type 52D destroyer , two of the main surface combatant units of the People's Liberation Army Navy. Beyond the simultaneous launch of more than 20,000 tons of destroyers, the production of Chinese combat ships is now reaching a pace that the world has not seen since the Second World War. Indeed, since June 2017, launch of the first Type 055 destroyer of its class , the Chinese military naval industry has launched no less than 21 destroyers and heavy destroyers, 8 Type 055 and 13 Type 052D, a number of ships of this type which had never been achieved since the launches of 28 light cruisers and heavy cruisers by American shipyards between 1943 and 1945.

180m long for an estimated displacement of more than 11,000 tonnes, the Type 055 heavy destroyers are among the most powerful surface combatant units in existence, using no less than 112 vertical launch cells capable of accommodating long-range HHQ anti-aircraft missiles. -9 and medium-range HHQ-16, as well as YJ-18A anti-ship missiles and CJ-10 cruise missiles. It also has a latest generation Type 346B flat-faced AESA radar, making it a ship equivalent to the American Ticonderoga cruisers . The Type 052D destroyer has a length of 157 m and a tonnage of 7,500. It has 64 vertical launch cells that can accommodate the same missiles as the Type 055, as well as a Type 346A flat-faced AESA radar less powerful than that of the Type 055. Since the 19th unit, the Type 052Ds have seen their hull lengthened to accommodate a new low-frequency air surveillance radar, as well as the capacity to operate the new Z-20 naval helicopter. In any case, neither the Type 55 nor the Type 052D display any fatal flaw or lower capabilities than their Western counterparts.

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The Type 052D destroyers have an elongated hull from the 19th unit onwards, allowing in particular to receive a new radar and to accommodate the Z-20 naval helicopter.

At the same time, American shipyards will have only launched 5 Arleigh Burke destroyers, while among the allies of the Pacific Theater of the United States, only Japan has launched two new destroyers, in this case both Maya-class Aegis destroyers . At this rate, taking into account the withdrawal of obsolete destroyers from the Chinese Navy, the existing and production of American, Japanese, South Korean and Australian industries, and the withdrawal or extension of existing units , the PLA will have caught up, quantitatively, with the Allied high-seas naval force by 2030. At that date, if 70% of the 90 Chinese destroyers will be less than 10 years old, only 30% of Allied units will be less than 15 years old, then that 40% of them will be over 25 years old. Furthermore, Beijing has little interest in deploying its forces in the Atlantic or the Mediterranean, while the United States is forced to do so, unless it leaves Europe to face pressure from the Russian navy alone. in this theater, Russian navy which, remember, also has a Pacific fleet based in Vladivostok.

However, it is possible that Beijing will not maintain the current pace in the years to come. Indeed, the increase in destroyer production capacities was partly linked to the end of the construction of the 30 Type 054A frigates which now arm the Chinese Navy. However, it is announced that the production of a new class of frigate, identified Type 054B, will soon be launched, a model considerably improved compared to the A models, having among other things an integrated electric propulsion, and a reinforced armament. But even with the transfer of part of the production capacities to the Type 054B frigates, the production rate of the Chinese naval industry will, in all probability, remain very high. It would indeed be very surprising if Beijing renounced using its productive tools designed at great expense to allow China to gain the upper hand on the seas vis-à-vis the United States and its allies.


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