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

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 tons. They are powered by a CODOG (Combined Diesel or Gaz) 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 Mk45 127mm cannon, 2x4 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, a CIWS Phalanx close protection system, two 25mm M242 Bushmaster telescopic guns and 2 twin torpedo tubes for Mu90 light anti-submarine torpedoes. . An MH-60R Romeo helicopter completes the offensive range 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 warfare corvettes, Type 054A anti-submarine warfare 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)

The rest of this article is for subscribers only -

The articles in full access are accessible in the section "Free Items". The Flash Articles are accessible in full version for 48 hours. Subscribers have access to the full Analysis, News and Synthesis articles. Articles in the Archives (more than 2 years old) are reserved for Premium subscribers.

The purchase of subscriptions is only accessible from the website - section Subscriptions and Tools

More information