Analysis: Sensor and Electronic Warfare Suites Aboard China's Type 055 Destroyer

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Focus - PLAN Type 055 Sensors
 
 
 
Analysis: Sensor and Electronic Warfare Suites Aboard China's Type 055 Destroyer
 
While official Chinese media have been quite reactive and open with the launched of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN or Chinese Navy) first Type 055 Destroyer (they did publish official images of the ceremony just two hours after it took place), details on the specifications of the ship, especially its sensor suite, are still scarce. But with plenty of imagery of Type 055 sensors now available, Navy Recognition contacted two retired French Navy officers (a former frigate commander and a former electronic warfare specialist) in order to try and learn more about the PLAN's latest surface combatant's sensors.
     
Type 055 sensors 1Upmast of Type 055 during its launch (left) and upmast of the shore integration facility at Wuhan's 701 institute (right)
     
This analysis based on open source intelligence (and mainly images) is limited because of the limited sources of images. All information here are hypotheses or "guesses" to the best of our sources' knowledge.

Our experts first underline that the sensor fit aboard the vessel is not complete yet. In the image above, you may notice that what is likely a TACAN (tactical air navigation system ) antenna fitted on top of the mast at the shore integration facility (right) is not present on the destroyer's actual mast (left). Some elements above the pilot house / bridge appear to be reinforced and are likely future placements for various sensors including an electro-optic s fire control system for the main gun. Navigation radar appear to be missing too. Note also that the 055 mast appear to be fitted with some kind of RCS reduction shields compared to the bare mast on the right.
     
Type 055 sensors 2Type 055 right before its launch
     
Here is the detailed analysis by the experts we contacted:
1: UHF/VHF transmitters or R-ESM interceptor antenna
2: UHF/VHF receiver or R-ESM radio direction finding antenna
3: UHF antenna or possible Tactical Data Link
4: X-Band fire control radar for the missiles. For this role, the location is ideal (i.e nothing in its way, low risk of interference with other sensors).
5: This could be an IFF, however these antennas located above the bridge have different sizes. The large ones are likely linked to IFF roles but the smaller ones may well be LPI radars, surface (or combined) search radars or even the aforementioned "missing" navigation radars.
6: Same thing: Likely an LPI surface search or navigation radar antenna...
7: While many people on Chinese forums claim that these are L-Band radar arrays, but our experts really doubt those claims. "They may look like long range radar arrays, but they are most probably not radar array, even less so L-band ones. Such a low position, close to the waterline, would render such arrays very much ineffective". While still unusual, these arrays are probably jammers. Their locations are perfect to cover the entire flanks of the vessel. Plus they would work perfectly in conjunction with the two CIWS (HP/J-11 gun forward and HQ-10 missiles on top of the helicopter hangar).
8: Type 346B AESA Radar
     
Type 055 sensors 3Close up view of the integrated mast
     
Taking a closer look at the integrated mast: If the UHF/VHF antennas are located up-mast (as indicated in the side by side mast pictures), the R-ESM sensors may be fitted right above the X-Band radar (4). These two locations, so close to an X-band fire control radar may be prone to electromagnetic interference however. The small cylinder shape right above them is a jammer (the same type is already present aboard Type 052D destroyers at pretty much the same location). Finally the "Round Box" may house an antenna, an IFF system or simply the various connectors for all the systems fitted up the mast.
     
Type 055 sensors 4Type 055 right before its launch
     
Last but not least, some more information on the Type 055's Type 346B AESA radar emerged. According to this source, the Type 055 is equipped with advanced active phased array radar with a larger diameter than the Type 346A radar fitted aboard the Type 052C class. One Type 346B radar array is larger than the 4.3x4.3 meter of the Type 346A arrays. The transmitter and receiver unit (is also using the latest Chinese gallium nitride (GaN) technology. Finally this new radar system is reportedly capable of fire control as well.
 

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