Pictures Showing China's Type 055 Next Gen Destroyer Under Construction in Shanghai
Larger vessel = more endurance
With a relatively rapid economic development, China's dependence on its maritime supply routes is becoming stronger. The need to protect its vital supply lines and interests overseas (who are now present on almost every continent) becomes paramount. The PLAN will therefore no longer be content to intervene only near its shore lines and on the continental shelf of the country. It now needs to be present where the interests of the country are, and therefore have the ability to fight anywhere in the world, to expand the political will of the Chinese state, protect Chinese nationals and defend its economic interests.
The Type 055 Destroyer is the consequence of this emerging need. For a country like China, which is still lacking overseas supply bases (one is under construction in Djibouti), a larger platform means more endurance at sea. Type 055 are set to have a displacement of 10,000 tons (to be compared with the 7,500 tons full load displacement of the Type 052D destroyer).
The Type 055 guided missile destroyer programme was launched in December 2009, virtually in parallel to the Type 052D programme. Sources close to the local shipbuilding industry and to the PLAN have repeatedly used words like "new thinking", "new concept", "technology leap " and "revolutionary" to describe the ship. Since most of the weapons fit remains similar to the Type 052D, most of that "new technology" likely has to do with the architecture of the combat system, as well as in the electronic, electromagnetic and construction domains. According to a retired PLAN officer, Type 055 combat system is highly integrated and capable of data fusion with sensors belonging to other branches of the military (AWACS and Satellites ?) which represents a leap.
According to Chinese media, the first tranche consist in four vessels (including two built at the Dalian naval shipyard). The unit cost of Type 055 is in excess of 5 Billion Yuan (approx. $750 Million USD). The first keel is rumored to have been layed in December 2014. The first vessel is likely to be launched in early 2017 while delivery to the PLAN should not happen until 2018 at the earliest.