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J. Michael Cole in the Taipei Times:
The Chinese Navy appears to be developing a brand new type of guided-missile destroyer (DDG) and could be producing several hulls simultaneously, a development that could further tip the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait.
Images have emerged on Chinese military Web sites in recent weeks that seem to confirm the long-rumored development of the Type 052D destroyer, which some analysts are comparing to Aegis-equipped destroyers in the US Navy. More recently, two hulls were pictured at China State Shipbuilding Corp's Jiangnan Changxing shipyard near Shanghai earlier this month. The first "dock launch" occurred yesterday.
According to China military watchers, as many as 10 Type 052D DDGs could be under construction at various shipyards. If true, this would be a departure from past practice for Chinese shipbuilders, which usually develop one or two hulls and launch a series of tests before entering mass production. Analysts have speculated that Chinese engineers may have become confident enough in the subsystems used on the new destroyer to risk accelerated development.
At 160m long and 18m wide, the Type 052D is slightly larger than its predecessor, the Type 052C, and is believed to weigh just over 6,000 tonnes. Reports indicate the vessel will use a Type 346 Active Phased Array Radar System and a Type 518 L-band long-range radar.
Meanwhile, the main 100mm gun on the Type 052C, reportedly unreliable, appears to have been replaced by a new PJ-38 130mm gun. The vessel also comes with a helicopter-landing platform and close-in weapon systems.
According to China Military News, the new destroyer comes with two 32-unit vertical launch systems capable of launching HQ-9B air-defense missiles, anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles. The original YJ-62 missile launchers used on the Type 052C do not appear to be present on the new DDG. It has been speculated that the Type 052D could be equipped with a navalized version of the DH-10 land-attack cruise missile.
Defense analysts believe the Type 052D could enter service in 2014.