Surface Forces: Bigger Than Burke And Badass


June 28, 2015:   Internet photos (of ship mockups for training) and chatter indicate that China is preparing to start construction of a new (Type 055) 12,000 ton cruiser class ship with 128 VLS tubes and much else besides. China claims this ship would be the equivalent of a U.S. Burke class warship. The Type 055 would be the largest surface combat ship China has ever built. Earlier the new Chinese Type 052 destroyers were described as similar to the Burkes but in reality the Type 052s were “Burke Lite” while the Type 055 is much closer to the Burkes in capabilities and, at least on paper, surpasses.

In 2013 the first of the Chinese Type 052D destroyers was seen on sea trials in the East China Sea. This design appears very similar to the American Aegis equipped destroyers (especially the Burke Class). Three versions of the Type 052 destroyer have, since 2001, advanced Chinese destroyer design considerably and China now has ships similar in capabilities to the 8,300 ton American Arleigh Burke class destroyers. This is currently the principal American destroyer. The

Burke design is the culmination of over half a century of World War II and Cold War destroyer experience. Even after the Burke was designed, in the 1980s the design evolved. The first Burkes were 8,300 ton ships, while the latest ones, laden with more gear and smaller crews, are 10,000 ton ships. This is what heavy cruisers weighed in World War II. With a top speed of nearly 50 kilometers an hour, their main armament is 90 vertical launch tubes flush with the deck that can contain anti-aircraft, anti-ship, anti-missile, or cruise missiles. There is also a 127mm (5 inch) gun, 2 20mm anti-missile autocannon, 6 torpedo tubes, and two helicopters. The Burkes were well thought out, sturdy, and they got the job done. They became irreplaceable, and thus this class of warships will last more than half a century. China likes the sound of that and is trying to match the Burkes.

Since 2003 two Type 052B and six Type 052C destroyers have entered service. These ships appear to have been part of a deliberate effort to develop something similar to the U.S. Burkes. Now one 052Ds is in service, five are building and six more are planned. These appear to be 7,500 ton ships armed with 64 American style (hot launch) VLS (Vertical Launch System) tubes for anti-aircraft (HQ-9), cruise, or anti-ship missiles. There is a single 130mm gun, six torpedo tubes (for submarines), and two 30mm autocannon for anti-missile defense. There is also a helicopter hanger and landing platform.

The older (2004) Type 052B Guangzhou Class Destroyers are 5,900 ton general purpose ships (with anti-ship/submarine/aircraft capabilities). Armament consists of 48 HQ-16 anti-aircraft missiles (range 30 kilometers) and 16 C-802 anti-ship missiles (range 120 kilometers). There is a single 100mm gun and two 30mm autocannon, for anti-missile defense. There is also one helicopter.

Type 052C Lanzhou Class Destroyers are 6,500 ton ships that first appeared in 2005. These ships use cold launch VLS (Vertical Launch System) tubes. There are 48 HQ-9 anti-aircraft missiles. There are also eight C-602 anti-ship missiles, in two four-cell launchers. There is a single 100mm gun and two 30mm autocannon for anti-missile defense. There is also a helicopter. These ships are mainly for air defense and use a phased array radar similar to the American Aegis system.




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