China launched its sixth Type 055 guided-missile destroyer at the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) in Liaoning province on December 26.
At 180 meters (590 feet) long and displacing over 10,000 tons, Type 055 guided-missile destroyers are longer and heavier than the U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers and is more comparable to the former than the latter.
Type 055 is considered to be a successor of the smaller Type 052D (Luyang III class, Kunming class) guided-missile destroyers that form the backbone of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleet. China is still producing Type 052D destroyers.
The ships will be equipped with a 112-cell vertical launching system capable of being armed with new types of air-defense, missile-defense, anti-ship, and anti-submarine weapons. It will be also equipped with long-range, land-attack cruise missiles.
The firepower of Type 055 is believed to be double that of the Type 052D guided-missile destroyer, currently China’s largest and most powerful surface combatant in service.
The first Type 055 destroyer, Nanchang, was launched at the Jiangnan Changxingdao shipyard near Shanghai in June 2017 and the second one was launched in April 2018. The third and the fourth destroyers were launched simultaneously on July 3, 2018.
China is producing warships at a rapid clip as it modernizes its navy, which has been taking an increasingly prominent role among the country’s armed forces. Chinese Navy is undergoing an ambitious expansion and is projected to have a total of 265-273 warships, submarines and logistics vessels by 2020.