Last week, the eleventh Type 052 Luyang III-class elite guided-missile destroyer joined the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleet marking an aggressive increase in the production of the lethal vessels. The battleship is often compared to Japan's violent Aegis destroyer.
Only one week prior, the ninth and tenth 052D destroyer took to the waters after being produced in China’s Jiangnan Shipyard with Beijing planning to construct at least five more battleships in the coming weeks amid tensions in the South China Sea.
The destroyers are set to be deployed to the South China Sea with some of the battleships set to flank the Liaoning, China’s only aircraft carrier that itself has sparked the attention of Western defense analysts due to its growing combat capabilities and potential to house a fleet of 20 elite fighter jets.
The elite destroyer is considered a major threat to US naval domination in the Pacific equipped with a deadly supply of YJ-18 long-range, supersonic anti-ship missiles in addition to a powerful Type 346A radar system providing the destroyer the necessary intelligence gathering capabilities for conducting anti-access, area denial (AA/AD) operations.
The Type 052 Luyang III-class destroyer’s anti-ship missiles travel at a speed of 614MPH (988kmh) through the first phase of transit after launch until the warhead disembarks from the missile powered by a solid rocket engine accelerating to a speed of 2,302MPH (3,705kmh) for the final 25 miles (40km) of its flight time.
The "carrier killer" destroyer will indeed play a critical role in China’s AA/AD strategy vis-à-vis the United States preventing American warships from penetrating the South China Sea area.
The massive surge in China’s naval capabilities come at a time when Beijing has warned its people to be prepared to go to war over the disputed South China Sea territory as the regime feels increased pressure from the West calling for the country to abandon the cherished and long-held territory after an adverse ruling by The Hague arbitrational court.