In yet another indicator of China’s rapid military progress, the Chinese are hard at work to develop a new battle cruiser, the “Type 055,” which will be as advanced as the ultra-expensive, Space Age-looking USS Zumwalt – but will be much more heavily armed.
The new Zumwalt-class DDG-1000 guided missile destroyer, of which the first of three vessels scheduled to be built is now undergoing sea testing preparatory to being integrated into the Pacific Fleet, is a triumph of state-of-the-art military technology, it features a stealth design, carries a payload of up to 80 guided missiles, and can even mount brand new rail guns and laser cannons. Because of its enormous cost ($7.5 billion per ship at latest estimate), however, Congress capped the number to be constructed at three.
Now the Chinese are developing a ship that will be larger, carry more missiles, and may even have satellite shoot-down capability. The Type 055 “dreadnaught” will possess X-band and S-band radar, defensive capabilities characteristic of American Aegis-equipped cruisers, but not the Zumwalt. It will also carry a payload of up to 96 missiles, including not only a sophisticated array of interceptor missiles, cruise missiles, and land attack missiles, but also much-feared supersonic long-range anti-ship missile, presumably of the “Sunburn” pedigree. And all indications are that the missiles to be deployed all have considerably longer ranges than their U.S. counterparts; this is not surprising, given the well-attested fact that the Russians have since the 1970s consistently beaten Americans to the punch in the development of guided missiles, and that the Russians continue to share missile technology with the Chinese.
When the Type 055 is deployed, America may find itself for the first time in generations facing a warship that outclasses all of its American counterparts, as summarized by The Motley Fool:
China is building a new battle cruiser that, at least judging by the specs that have been released, appears to outclass the most advanced “destroyer” in the U.S. fleet, both in traditional missions (anti-ship) and in new objectives (anti-satellite). This, in turn, could affect the U.S. Navy’s plans to continue doing things as it’s been doing them for decades — focusing on the construction of old-model Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and budget-busting aircraft carriers, for example.
It is not clear when the new ship will be produced, or how many the Chinese will deploy, but if the Chinese are successful, they will not only be fielding a cutting-edge warship, they will be packing more armaments on a smaller platform than the U.S.-touted Zumwalt — and at much lower cost.
Although it has not been explicitly called such, every indicator is that China and the United States are heading towards a new global arms race — and one in which the United States may not fare as well vis-à-vis the competition as it did against the Soviets during the Cold War.