2 052Ds have more U-VLS cells than 1 055, the cost is a bit higher too, but quantity always matters. I agree that the current focus of PLAN should be within the 2nd island chain. However, assets such as the 055 and 003 were definitely designed with something beyond that in mind. Similarly, I suggest they should start to build larger ASW frigates too. They're probably doing it, but if the designation is really the rumored 054B, I don't know whether that's a good move, since that designation implies a diesel-powered frigate of roughly the size of the 054A...You can see they aren't building too many Type-055s compared to Type-052Ds. See the 5 year periods below
2016-2020 16x Type-052D + 8x Type-055
2021-2025 20x Type-052D + 8x Type-055 (rumoured)
Plus remember the Type-055 has a number of capabilities which the Type-052D doesn't have
This includes command facilities for a task group
And if you do need large numbers of VLS cell, a Type-055 is more cost-efficient than a Type-052D
Ah yes, They are closer to SHORAD than medium range SAMs
Gulf of Aden missions are a nice to have for the next 10 years. It's good for some training, but the Western Pacific is where any high-intensity conflict will be decided. If you put gas turbines on a Frigate, you'll get enough speed to keep up with carrier groups and also the inherent smoothness/quietness.
I agree ships are getting larger, but the they don't have to grow that much in size
Other navies have a requirement for very long-range ships because they have to travel vast distances, whereas Chinese ships do not
When I was referring to the OH Perry, I was referring to both its size and speed, given that it was using gas turbines
The PLAN have now effective or will soon effective replace most of their legacy ships with modern ones.
The focus now which is the new 5 year plan is pure numbers. They need numbers or in other words more VLS cells.
If you assume that any future conflict in the pacific with the US includes at least JSDMF forces, then you need to churn more numbers of green-water ASW FFG (the 054A) to handle their subs and more light-destroyers (052D) to quickly ramp VLS cell counts. This line of thinking makes sense.
Type-055 are capital ships and not the main-workhorse so no need to ramp up their numbers as much as the 052D.
At the same time, they don't want to lose sight of the future which is why they are con-currently building the next FFG, a true blue-water FFG for escort roles. We might also see some beginnings of Type-052D replacement, a mid-size DDG. I don't think there will be a 052E. It's possible the next 20 052D might feature some upgrades but maybe not signficant enough to be dubbed 052E.
50 054As may sound like a lot at first but now that I think of it it sounds fairly reasonable.
With australia firmly becoming a US puppet, and submarine proliferation across asia including taiwan, China needs good, numerous and affordable ASW assets, and 054A, even though it's not the most optimised or modern design can fill that need quite well