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China launches next-generation destroyers expected to be armed with electromagnetic railgun

(Global Times)    09:20, July 04, 2018

China launches two Type 055 guided-missile destroyers, widely considered Asia's biggest such combat vessels, at a shipyard in Dalian, Liaoning province, on Tuesday. [Photo/LIU DEBIN FOR CHINA DAILY]

Type 055 likely to be armed with experimental electromagnetic railgun

Two of China's newest-generation guided missile destroyers - Type 055 - have been launched in Dalian, a coastal city of Northeast China's Liaoning Province, on Tuesday, marking China's fourth such launch of Type 055 destroyers.

Experts say the People's Liberation Army (PLA) needs to commission at least 10.

Type 055 is China's first home-grown 10,000-ton class missile destroyer, and the first and second ships of this type were launched by the Shanghai Jiangnan Shipyard Group in June 2017 and April 2018. The two vessels launched on Tuesday were built by the Dalian Shipyard Group. Both shipyards are under the China State Shipbuilding Corporation.

"Launching four 10,000-ton class missile destroyers in about one year shows China's remarkable shipbuilding capability, and compared to other major naval powers, including the US, China's speed is the fastest," said Wang Yunfei, a military expert and a retired officer of the Chinese navy.

Type 055 has multiple roles to play in the future of the PLA Navy, including aircraft carrier escort, theater missile defense and sea-to-ground attack, Wang noted.

"According to the history of the PLA Navy, we normally need about 10 destroyers, and in the future, the Navy will be heavy and diversified, so it's possible to see more than 10 Type 055 join the PLA," he said.

The photos taken at the Dalian Shipyard on Tuesday, and uploaded by military enthusiasts on Weibo, showed that there is one more Type 055 under construction in a dock. Military experts believe that the first Type 055 will be formally delivered to the PLA Navy by the end of 2018.

"After the launching ceremony, the next step is sea trial, which normally takes one year, so the first one launched in June 2017 would likely be enlisted by the end of this year, if everything goes well," Wang told the Global Times.

The two ships launched on Tuesday might finish sea trials and be delivered to the PLA Navy by October next year, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Type 055 will also likely be armed with an electromagnetic railgun, Song said. "The Type 055 is the best fit for China's future electromagnetic gun, for the all-electric warship could meet the weapon's huge power supply demand."

Photos spread on the internet since January showed that a Type 072 III landing ship of the PLA Navy was equipped with a main gun that is suspected to be an experimental electromagnetic railgun, reported Science and Technology Daily in February. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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