China launched a new domestically developed destroyer in Shanghai on Wednesday, marking a milestone in building a strong and modern naval force, according to the People's Liberation Army Navy.
The launch ceremony was held at the Jiangnan Shipyard of the China State Shipbuilding Corp on Wednesday and was attended by General Zhang Youxia, head of equipment development for the Central Military Commission.
The ship is the first of China's new-generation guided-missile destroyer class, with a full displacement of around 10,000 metric tons. It will be equipped with new types of air defense, missile defense, and anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons, the Navy said in a news release without giving further details.
Next, engineers will test and fine-tune equipment mounted on the ship and continue installing other devices. The vessel then will conduct mooring and sailing tests, the Navy said.
Though the Navy has yet to reveal which class the new destroyer belongs to, observers believe it is the Type 055 class and call it one of the largest and mightiest of its kind in the world.
Currently, the Navy's largest and most powerful surface combat vessel is the Type 052D destroyer, which has a full displacement of nearly 7,000 tons and carries 64 vertical launch cells capable of firing various kinds of missiles.
Yin Zhuo, director of the PLA Navy's Expert Consultation Committee, said earlier that China is developing the Type 055 destroyer, which can carry more than 100 vertical launch cells.
Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said the deployment of the vessel in the near future will mark the first time the Navy will have a 10,000-ton destroyer.
The latest version of the United States' Arleigh Burke class, the largest destroyer family in the world, has a full displacement of 9,800 tons. South Korea's Sejong the Great class has 11,000 tons while Japan's Atago class has 10,000 tons.
Compared with other destroyers in the Navy, Zhang said, the Type 055 class has more firepower, higher information capacity and better reconnaissance and early warning capabilities.
He said the Type 055 will extensively improve the Navy's long-range operational capability, and such ships will play a major role in the country's carrier battle groups.
Cao Weidong, another researcher at the institute, said a Type 055 destroyer can also be a good missile-defense platform because it can carry and launch China's advanced missile interceptors, effectively expanding the country's missile defense network.
Also on Wednesday, China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, another State-owned defense contractor to the PLA Navy, announced it launched a new guided-missile destroyer on Monday at its Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Co in Liaoning province. Although the company did not give the new ship's class, Chinese media reported that it is the 13th Type 052D destroyer. The Navy has commissioned five Type 052Ds.
In late April, the nation launched its first domestically developed aircraft carrier at the Dalian shipyard. The carrier is now undergoing equipment installation and testing.
Currently, the Navy operates a sole aircraft carrier, CNS Liaoning, which is a refitted Soviet-era vessel.