China building new Type 052D destroyer

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File photo of Type 052C,  Tpye 052D's predecessor.

The Chinese navy may be developing a brand new class of guided-missile destroyer, the Type 052D, and would be producing several hulls to reinforce China's naval capabilities, according to a Global Times report.

In recent weeks, Chinese military websites have been buzzing with news that a series of blurry pictures portray the 052D, which military watchers are comparing to the Aegis-equipped destroyers of the U.S. Navy.

Earlier this month, two hulls were pictured at the China State Shipbuilding Corp. Jiangnan Changxing shipyard near Shanghai. One vessel was launched yesterday.

According to China military watchers, as many as 10 Type 052D DDGs could currently be under construction. If true, this would be a departure from the past practices of Chinese shipbuilders, which usually develop one or two hulls and launch a series of tests before entering mass production. Analysts have speculated that Chinese engineers may have become confident enough in the subsystems used on the new destroyer to risk accelerated development.

At 160m long and 18m wide, the Type 052D is slightly larger than its predecessor, the Type 052C, and is believed to weigh in at just over 6,000 tonnes. Reports indicate the vessel will use a Type 346 Active Phased Array Radar System and a Type 518 L-band long-range radar.

Meanwhile, the main 100mm gun on the Type 052C, which has reportedly been unreliable, appears to have been replaced by a new PJ-38 130mm gun. The vessel comes with a helicopter-landing platform and close-in weapon system.

According to China Military News, the new destroyers are equipped with two 32-unit vertical launch systems capable of launching HQ-9B air-defense missiles, anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles. The original YJ-62 missile launchers used on the Type 052C do not appear to be present on the new destroyer. It has been speculated that the Type 052D could be equipped with a naval-style version of the DH-10 land-attack cruise missile.

Defense analysts expect the Type 052D to enter service in 2014.

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