Technical review Type 55 stealth guided missile destroyer Nanchang of Chinese Navy

Technical review by Navy Recognition editorial team about the new Chinese Navy Type 055 stealth guided missile destroyer Nanchang (101) launched in January 2020. This ship is designed to perform long-range air defense, anti-surface warfare (ASuW), anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), electronic warfare (EW), land and maritime strike, escort, long-range patrol and surveillance missions.
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Technical review Type 55 stealth guided missile destroyer Nanchang of Chinese Navy 925 001Chinese-made Type 55 missile destroyer Nanchang 101. (Picture source Twitter account @Loongnaval)

The Type 055 missile destroyer Nanchang, the first ship of this class, began construction in 2014 at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, and was commissioned on 12 January 2020. It was officially unveiled to the public during the multinational naval parade in celebration of the Chinese navy's 70th founding anniversary on April 23, 2019.

Type 055 adopts a conventional flared hull with distinctive stealthy features including an enclosed bulbous bow that hides mooring points, anchor chains and other equipment. It has a length of 180, a beam of 20 m, and it displaces over 12,000 tones at full load. It is a development of the Type 052D Luyang III-class guided-missile destroyer but is about a third bigger than the latter.

According to naval military sources, the Type 055 can carry more weapons and equipment than any other Chinese navy destroyer. The future Type 055 variants could carry China's futuristic electromagnetic railgun, which can shoot hypersonic projectiles at Mach 7. It could be also upgraded to be used as an antiballistic missile platform according to Chinese military sources.

The power system of Type 55 is based on the latest domestic-made gas turbine, pushing forward the way towards all-electric propulsion. It is powered by four 28 MW QC-280 gas turbines in combined gas and gas (COGAG) arrangement with additional power that may be provided by six 5 MW QD-50 gas turbines. The maximum speed of the class is estimated to be 30 knots.

The missile defense systems of the Type 55 combine surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, land-attack cruise missiles and anti-submarine missiles. It has a total of 112 vertical launch systems (VLS) with 8x8 units in the front deck and 6x8 units in the middle. For the air defense, the ship could be equipped with missiles including HHQ-9B long-range air defense missiles and HQ-16B mid-range air defense missiles. According to the Chinese Naval Industry, Type 55 could be also equipped with a type of mid-close-range surface-to-air missile developed from the DK-10 missile. The HHQ-9B is a naval version of the HQ-9, a medium- to long-range, active radar homing surface-to-air missile. The HQ-16 is a Chinese-made medium-range air defense missile system.

Type 055 could be equipped with YJ-18 anti-ship missiles designed for use against ships and large boats. Chinese media claims the missile has an inertial guidance system using BeiDou Navigation Satellite System data and carries a 300 kg high-explosive warhead or an anti-radiation warhead to destroy electronics at short range.

The main gun of Type 55 seems to be an improved version of the 130 millimeters single-barreled H/PJ45A-130-1, which could be found on the Type 052D. The gun can shoot 40 shells a minute, and a normal shell can travel 30 kilometers, while a rocket-propelled guided shell could hit targets even farther and more accurately.

The Type 55 is also equipped with a Type 1130 close-in weapon system that can shoot tens of thousands of bullets per minute to neutralize incoming missiles. It also has a 24-unit HHQ-10 close-range anti-missile system that can effectively intercept supersonic anti-ship missiles, according to the report.

The Type 55 can operate up to two Z-18 anti-submarine warfare helicopters from its deck. The Z-18 is a new generation military transport helicopter from China. It was developed by Changhe Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) and is reportedly based on the civilian Avicopter AC313 (Harbin Z-8) itself based on the 1960ies Aerospatiale SA321 Super Frelon. The naval variant is designated Z-18F "Sea Eagle" and will be capable of ASW missions (with Yu-7K lightweight torpedoes) as well as anti-surface warfare (ASuW) missions with YJ-9 anti-ship missiles.