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 combatant surface units of the People's Liberation Army Navy. Beyond the simultaneous launch of more than 20.000 tons of destroyer, the production of Chinese combat ships is now reaching a rate that the world has not seen since the Second World War. In fact, since June 2017, the launch of the first type 055 destroyer in its class, the Chinese military naval industry launched no less than 21 destroyers and heavy destroyers, 8 Type 055 and 13 Type 052D, a number of vessels of this type which had never been reached since the launches of 28 light cruisers and heavy cruisers by American shipyards between 1943 and 1945.
180m long for an estimated displacement of over 11.000 tonnes, Type 055 heavy destroyers are among the most powerful units surface combatants, implementing no less than 112 vertical launch cells capable of accommodating HHQ-9 long-range anti-aircraft missiles and HHQ-16 medium-range anti-aircraft missiles, as well as YJ-18A anti-ship missiles and missiles CJ-10 cruise line. It also has an AESA radar with flat face of the latest generation Type 346B, making a ship equivalent to the American Ticonderoga cruisers. The Type 052D destroyer has a length of 157 m for 7500 tons. It has 64 vertical launch cells that can accommodate the same missiles as the Type 055, as well as an AESA Type 346A flat face radar less powerful than that of the Type 055. Since the 19th unit, the Type 052D saw their hull lengthened to accommodate a new radar low-frequency aerial watch, as well as the ability to operate the new Z-20 naval helicopter. In any case, neither the Type 55 nor the Type 052D display any crippling defect or lower capacities than their Western counterparts.
At the same time, the American shipyards will have launched only 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 the two 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 withdrawal or extension of existing units, the PLA will have caught up, quantitatively, with the Allied high seas naval force by 2030. By this date, if 70% of the 90 Chinese destroyers will be less than 10 years old, only 30% of the Allied units will have less than 15 years old, while 40% of them will be over 25 years old. In addition, Beijing has little interest in deploying its forces in the Atlantic or in the Mediterranean, while the United States is forced to do so, except to leave Europe to face, alone, the pressure of the Russian navy. in this theater, a Russian navy which, let us remember, also has a Pacific fleet based in Vladivostok.
However, Beijing may 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 054A type frigates which now arm the Chinese Navy. However, it is announced that soon will be launched the production of a new class of frigate, identified Type 054B, a model considerably improved vis-à-vis the models A, having among others an integrated electric propulsion, and reinforced armament. But even with the transfer of part of the production capacity to the type 054B frigates, the rate of production of the Chinese naval industry will remain very high, in all probability. It would indeed be very surprising for Beijing to give up using its productive tool sized at great expense to allow China to gain the ascendancy over the seas vis-à-vis the United States and its allies.
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