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Chinese Navy
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Chinese Navy


Since late 80's, we started to see the introduction of new generations of DDGs and FFGs, such as Luhu class DDG and Jiangwei class FFG, which have provided Chinese navy for the first time a much needed AAW and ASW capability with short-range SAMs and shipborne helicopters carrying guided torpedoes. However, the debate of building aircraft carriers (CV) vs. building large amphibious assault ships (LPH) had lasted for more than a decade. Until recently, as the consequences of the Balkan War, the American TMD project, and the Taiwan Independence movement combined together, the plan to build two 48,000ton class aircraft carriers is believed to be put back onto the agenda. The construction of the first aircraft carrier could start as early as 2001 and the ship could be launched in 2006.
In 1996 an $800m deal was reached to purchase two Sovremenny class destroyers (Type 956E 8,400t full load) from Russia which were initially built for Soviet Navy. After prolonged negotiations and delays caused by financial problems of the shipyard as well as disagreement over selection of the onboard weapon systems, the first vessel was finally launched at the North Shipyard in St. Petersburg on Feburary 15, and the second on April 16, 1999. The first ship is currently under sea trial in Baltic Sea (with Russian pennant number 698 and manned by a mixed Chinese and Russian crew) and is expected to sail to China by the end of this year. The second ship will be turned over to China a year later. As the largest and most powerful warship ever to enter PLAN service, its 8 SS-N-22 SSMs (3M82, active/passive radar homing to 160km at Mach 2.5) are a direct response to US CVBG's presence in the western Pacific, and its 44 SA-N-7/17 SAMs (semi-active radar/IR homing to 25km at Mach 3, multiple fire channels) will provide PLAN for the first time a true fleet air defence capability. There is little doubt that Sovremenny class DDG will enable PLAN to project its power beyond China's traditional territory.
Luhai 167 Shenzhen
Luhai 167 is the newest and by far the largest warship in PLAN's inventory. Launched in October 1997 at Dalian Shipyard and commissioned in late 1998, it is currently believed to station in Zhan Jiang, a major naval base for the South Sea Fleet. The second ship, 168, is also under construction at the same shipyard and is expected to be launched in 2000. Compared with the previous Luhu class, this 6,000t DDG has a stretched hull with certain stealth designs including a streamlined upper structure with inclined angle, two solid masts with fewer protruding electronic sensor arrays. Main powerplants are two Ukrainian gas turbines which give it a top speed of 29kt. New Rice Shield 3D air search radar and Type 363 air/surface search radar were also installed. Its main armament include 16 YJ-8II/C-802 SSM, one twin 100mm main gun and 4 twin 37mm AA gun above a large helicopter hanger, which could house two Ka-32 ASW helicopters bought from Russia. Surprisingly the photo reveals that the ship is protected only by HQ-7/Cortale short-range SAMs in a single octuple launcher, which appears ineffective against modern sea-skimming missiles attacking from multiple directions. However the stepped structure in front of the bridge clearly indicates the ship was designed with VLS in mind. The introduction of Luhai class suggests that the 052 Luhu building project has been terminated.
Luhu 113 Qingdao
This newest and the last member of Luhu class DDG (type 052, 4,200t full load) just became operational in 1996, two years after the commission of the first vessel 112 Harbin. They are the only PLAN warships powered by GE LM-2500 gas turbines due to the US embargo on further exports. Compared to the old Luda class DDG, this class represents a significant step forward in terms of weapon and electronic systems. In addition, there are some minor difference between 112 and 113, including a new funnel on 113 to reduce IR signature and the indigenous FM-80N/HQ-7 SAM. Its primary surface-to-surface weapons are 8 YJ-8/YJ-8II sea-skimming SSMs (C-801A or C-802/CSS-N-8, active radar homing to 85/120km at Mach 0.9, the improved version has a range of 180km) and a twin 100mm gun (35rd/min). Its air-defence systems include 32 Thomson-CSF Sea Crotale SAMs (IR/TV/radar homing to 13km at Mach 2.4, 8 rounds ready to launch) and 4 twin 37mm type 715II/III AA guns(920rd/min), thus it still lacks the fleet defence capability beyond visual range. The various onboard systems are integrated together by Thomson-CSF TAVITAC combat automation system. Luhu class represents PLAN's first attempt to build a true "blue water" navy and it is quickly being superseded by the bigger and more advanced