10:18 GMT21 September 2020
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    New reports from Chinese social media platforms Weibo and WeChat reveal that Beijing’s eighth and final Type 055 destroyer may be ready for launch soon, as the stealth guided-missile destroyer was spotted receiving a new paint job at a Dalian shipyard.

    The eighth and final Type 055 destroyer in the People Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) first group of the ships was recently seen being painted at a shipyard in Dalian, indicating to many Chinese social media users that the advanced, 12,000-ton vessel will soon be ready for launch.

    Citing naval experts, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) noted that it may take up to three years for all eight destroyers to enter into service. Furthermore, a realistic timetable for the entire group to be war-ready spans a five-year period, according to experts.

    Lu Li Shih, a former instructor at Taiwan’s Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, explained to the outlet that this has to do with the vessels’ need to overcome potential electromagnetic interference issues.

    “Unlike other destroyers equipped with complicated antenna devices on the masts, the Type 055 has the advanced enclosed integrated mast, which allows it to communicate with other platforms,” Lu said. “But that means more time is needed for them to go through complicated and comprehensive tests before they can join the navy.”

    Sputnik reported back in January that the Nanchang, the first Type 055, had formally entered service approximately two and a half years after its launch. The vessel is the largest destroyer in service anywhere, after the US Navy’s 16,000-ton Zumwalt-class destroyer. However, Washington only has plans for three Zumwalts.

    While the Nanchang participated in the PLAN portion of the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China celebration in October 2019, one Chinese military insider told the SCMP that many pieces of equipment, including “including radars, communications and weapons systems and other works – had not actually been finished.”

    The warship can perform anti-submarine and anti-ship roles, as well as anti-aircraft, and even bombard shore targets. It is anticipated to serve as an escort to the PLAN’s burgeoning aircraft carrier fleet.

    Observers spotted the second Type 055 heading out from Dalian on sea trials on Friday, signaling that it, too, may soon join the fleet.

    A Wednesday report from War Industry Black Technology, a social media platform of the Shenzhen-based company Quantum Defense Cloud Technology, noted that in addition to carrier strike groups, the PLAN will form three amphibious assault groups composed of a Type 075 warship and a high-energy cannon-equipped Type 055 destroyer, according to the SCMP.

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    Tags:
    People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), destroyer, China
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