Hobart, Type 52D, Sejong the Great: Modern Destroyers - Part 1


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Heirs to the destroyers that appeared at the end of the 19th century to fight against the torpedo boats that threatened large ships of the line like cruisers and later battleships, the modern destroyer is an imposing surface combatant, often more of 7000 tons, equipped with a powerful armament, a great versatility, and able as well to escort major units as aircraft carriers as to carry out strikes towards the ground or missions of interdiction. If the classification remains vague and unsystematic with on the one hand lLighter and more specialized frigates, and on the other hand the heavier cruisers capable of playing the role of a major naval unit themselves, destroyers frequently represent the most powerful surface units in service in many leading navies, and are more often than not specialized in anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense and even denial of access.

This two-part summary presents the 8 main classes of Destroyers in service or soon in service in the world's major navies, to assess their performance, military potential and the role that these ships can play in a changing global geopolitics.

Hobart Class (Australia, 3 units)

Intended to replace Adelaide class frigates, the 3 Hobart class destroyers are derived simultaneously from the Spanish heavy frigates of the Alvaro de Bazan class and the American Arleigh Burke destroyers, from which they take, like many Western destroyers presented here, the famous AEGIS anti-aircraft defense system and anti-missile. The award of the SEA 4000 contract, in 2007, to the Spanish Navantia associated with the British BAe, was made jointly with the order of 2 assault helicopter carriers or Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) of 27.500 tonnes of the class Canberra, also commanded from Navantia, of which they were partly to ensure the protection. Almost 75% larger than the Adelaide frigates they replace, the Hobart-class destroyers are 147 m in length for a loaded tonnage of 7.000 tonnes. They are powered by a CODOG (Combined Diesel or Gas) system, employing 2 diesel engines of 7.500 hp for normal speed transits, and two General Electric gas turbines of 23.500 hp each for high speeds, offering them a maximum speed of 28 knots and an endurance at sea of ​​5.000 nautical miles at 15 knots.

HMAS Hobart at the 2017 Entry-into-Service Ceremony in Sidney.

The Hobart armament offers a wide range of capabilities, with a predisposition for anti-aircraft defense thanks to its 48 vertical silos Mk41 welcoming SM2 missiles ou RIM-166ESSM, the latter being potentially loaded with 4 missiles per silo, offering great firepower in this area to the Australian destroyer. It also carries a 45mm Mk127 cannon, 2 × 4 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, a CIWS Phalanx close protection system, two 25mm M242 Bushmaster remote guns and 2 twin torpedo tubes for anti-submarine torpedoes. lightweight Mu90. An MH-60R Romeo helicopter completes the offensive panoply of the building. Detection is entrusted with flat face radar AN / SPY-1D identical to that which equips the American destroyers of the Arleigh Burke class flight I, II and IIa, completed by an electro-optical infrared Vampir system from the French SAGEM. For anti-submarine detection, it carries hull sonar coupled with towed sonar, giving it advanced capabilities, including in oceanic areas.

Although construction of the first unit in the class, the HMAS Hobart, began in 2009, it did not enter service until 2017, nearly two years behind schedule. As such, the program was reworked by ANAO in 2014, the Australian equivalent of the Court of Auditors, for these issues of deadlines and cost overruns which will ultimately amount to more than $ 1,45 billion. Australians, or nearly € 300m per ship. The other two units in the class, HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Sidney, entered service in 2018 and 2020 respectively, and are now operating alongside the Anzac-class frigates in the Royal Australian Navy.

Type 052D / DL (China, 25 units launched)

Derived from the Type 052C destroyers which entered service between 2004 and 2015 (6 units), and of which they are an enlarged and significantly modernized version, the Chinese Type 052D destroyers today represent the backbone of the escort of the large naval units of the Chinese Navy, such as Type 001 / A aircraft carriers, Type 071 assault ships or Type 075 LHDs, in particular with regard to anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense. It is also the most prolific class of the moment, with at least 25 units planned including 9 in an extended version designated Type 052DL, but which will certainly include many more ships. Along with Type 056A anti-submarine corvettes, Type 054A anti-submarine frigates, and Type 055 heavy destroyers, or cruisers, Type 052D destroyers represent the renewal of the Chinese surface navy, with capacities that have little to envy their Western or Russian counterparts.

The extended version Type 052DL carries a new low frequency radar (in the center of the ship) as well as an extended hangar to accommodate the new Z-20 naval helicopter

161 meters long for the DL version (157 m for the D version), the destroyer reaches an estimated tonnage of 7500 tonnes when loaded. Unlike the Type 052C, it has a CODOG propulsion of Chinese invoice, and not German under license. It carries a substantial and very complete armament, with 64 vertical silos that can accommodate anti-aircraft missiles with a range of 200 km and derived from the Russian missile equipping the S300V systems, as well as equivalent CY-5 anti-submarine missiles. of the American ASROC, and YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missiles with a range exceeding 400 km, having a final speed given at Mach 2,5. The ship also carries a 130mm gun, a CIWS HQ-10 self-protection system with 24 short-range anti-missile missiles, and a CIWS with an automatic 30mm Gatling gun equivalent to the American Phalanx system. . Detection is provided by an AESA Type 346A flat face radar coupled with the equivalent of the American AEGIS system to respond to multiple attacks, as well as a Type 518 low frequency watch radar and its evolution for the Type 52DL, capable of detecting so-called stealth planes such as the F22 and F35 more easily and further away. A hull sonar coupled with a towed variable depth sonar, and a Z-9 anti-submarine warfare helicopter, or Z-20 for the DL version, complete the ship's range.

As we can see, the Type 052D / DL are the most modern ships and represent powerful adversaries for the Western navies, including the US Navy. But it is not so much their power and modernity as their intensive production that now poses a major challenge to Western planners. Indeed, where the American, Australian, Japanese and South Korean naval industries have launched 7 destroyers over the past 3 years, Chinese shipyards have launched no less than 13 Type 052D and DL destroyers, as well as 8 Type 055 heavy destroyers, i.e. a 3: 1 ratio in favor of China. At this rate, the Chinese navy will have caught up with and surpassed the western high seas naval power present in the Pacific by 2025 or 2026, with ships that are both modern and powerfully armed. (Note: the Type 055 heavy destroyer will be dealt with later in a synthesis dedicated to modern cruisers)

Senjong the Great Class (South Korea, 3 + 3 units)

Like People's China, South Korea has, in just two decades, simultaneously acquireda high seas navy now recognized as one of the most powerful in the Indo-Pacific theater, but also of a military naval industry able to design and manufacture large vessels, powerfully armed, and potentially capable of competing with any of the destroyers in this panel. As such, the Senjong le Grand class destroyers, resulting from the KDX-III program, represent the culmination of this effort initiated at the end of the 80s. They are, in fact, the most powerfully armed ships of this panel. , to the point that they could very well have classified themselves in the category of cruisers rather than destroyers. Indeed, these 165 m long ships have a tonnage of 11.000 tonnes when loaded.

Senjon the Great destroyers are today the largest and most powerfully armed destroyers in the Western Camp, even against the American Arleigh Burke.

Like the American Arleigh Burke or the Australian Hobart, the Senjong the Great implement the American system AEGIS as well as the AN / SPY-1D radar for anti-aircraft and anti-missile detection. However, unlike the Australian Hobart, the ship has no less than 80 Mk41 vertical silos to accommodate SM-2 missiles et the SM-3 anti-missile missile. It also has 48 local K-VLS type vertical silos, accommodating Hyunmoo-3 cruise missiles with a range of 1.500 km, or the K-ASROC anti-submarine missile carrying the Red Shark light torpedo. The ship also has a 127 mm gun, 16 anti-ship missiles with a range of 200 km, a CIWS RAM anti-missile system equipped with 21 missiles, a 30 mm CIWS Goalkeeper, and 2 triple torpedo launchers equipped with Blue Shark torpedoes. A sonar system with hull sonar and towed sonar, as well as two Super Lynx or Sh-60 naval helicopters complete this impressive offensive and defensive arsenal.

The presence of a large number of cruise missiles, which moreover could in the future be supplemented by on-board ballistic missiles, is explained by the South Korean tropism, much more concerned with the firepower of its half-brother positioned north of the 38th parallel, and above all by its nuclear program and the progress made in ballistic missiles in recent years, as well as by the rise of Beijing's military power. The Senjong the Great's objective is therefore just as much to escort the major units, and in particular the future aircraft carrier being designed, as to ensure a form of deterrence by having a more than significant response capacity in case of aggression, even without a nuclear charge. We find this same problem in the design of the latest generation of Dosan Ahn Changho class submarines, also equipped with vertical launch cells for cruise missiles, a thing however extremely rare for submarines with conventional propulsion. Seoul announced in 2019 a new order for 3 new destroyers of this type, which will strengthen the 3 units already in service since 2013.

Kolkata class (India, 3 + 4 units)

Comme all the navies of the Indo-Pacific theater, the Indian Navy undertook to modernize its fleet in the early 2000s to cope with the growing power of the Chinese Navy, and massive regional rearmament. In addition, New Delhi remains in tension with both Beijing in the Gulf of Bengal and Islamabad in the Arabian Sea and the Pacific Ocean, forcing it to scale its naval forces to potentially face two simultaneous fronts. It was in this context that in 2002, Mazagon Dock Limited shipyards began construction of the first Kolkata-class destroyer, or Project 15, at the time the largest combatant surface unit ever built in the country. In total, 3 ships designed and manufactured in India were delivered to the Indian Navy between 2014 and 2016, with an average of 11,5 years of construction per ship between the laying of the keel and the entry into service of the vessels. .

the silhouette of the Kolkata class destroyers is characteristic with the central mast mounted from the Israeli MF-STAR flat face radar

Still, the 3 destroyers of the Kolkata class are ships perfectly in tune with their operational context. 163 meters long, they have a load capacity of 8.100 tonnes. Their COGAG (Gas and Gas) propulsion gives them a maximum speed of around 30 knots, and an autonomy at sea of ​​more than 4.000 nautical miles at 15 knots, suitable for oceanic missions limited to the approaches to the subcontinent. As often, the Indian navy turned to its Western partners, and in particular Israelis, French and Russia, to equip the ship. Thus, the main armament of the Kolkata is composed of 32 Barak-8 / ER missiles in vertical silos, an anti-aircraft and anti-missile missile co-designed with Israel's IAI and Rafael and capable of reaching targets up to 150 km. The anti-ship fight is entrusted to 12 Brahmos missiles co-designed with the Russian company NPO and derived from the P700 granite, capable of hitting naval and land targets over 600 km while flying at Mach 3 on a grazing trajectory. The ship also uses a 76mm OTO Melara cannon, 4 Russian-made CIWS AK-630 Gatling guns, 4 533mm torpedo tubes and 2 naval helicopters. Detection is entrusted to the Israeli IAI EL / M-2248 MF-STAR radar equipped with flat-faced AESA antennas with a range of 300 to 400 km depending on the targets, and ASM detection is provided by a HUMSA-NG hull sonar. from the local manufacturer BEL.

Despite the long and laborious manufacture of the 3 Kolkata, New Delhi entrusted, in 2011, to the same Mazagon shipyards for the construction of 4 new modernized units, designated Visakhapatnam class or Project 15B. The construction of the first eponymous ship began in 2013, and it is due to enter service with the Indian Navy this year. Visually, as from an operational point of view, the Visakhapatnam differ little from the Kolkata, except by their 127 mm gun which replaces the too narrow 76mm of the first ships, as well as a redesigned gangway and main mast to reduce ships' radar signature. The weaponry and detection equipment are the same between the two classes, but the combat system has undergone a makeover to take advantage of the few years between them. The last unit of this subclass, the Porbandar, is due to enter service in 2025. New Delhi has started work to design a new class of heavy destroyers, designated Project 18, and measuring up to 13.000 tons, to cope with the rapid entry into service of Chinese Type 055s, and to strengthen the country's anti-missile shield.

End of the first part. The second part of this synthesis will deal with American Arleigh Burke class destroyers, Japanese Maya, British Type 45s and future Russian 22350M Super Gorshkovs.

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