China's increasingly powerful navy launched its most advanced domestically produced destroyer taking a giant stride in building complex naval platforms indigenously at a time of rising competition with other naval powers such as the United States, Japan and India.
The 10,000-tonne Type 055 warship was set on water at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai on Wednesday making it the first of the People's Liberation Army Navy's new generation destroyers, Xinhua said.
The ship is believed to be the first Type 055 destroyer, which is considered to be a successor class to the smaller Type 052D guided missile destroyers.
The vessel will have to undergo planned testing before it is commissioned into use.
Destroyer is a fast, maneuverable long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller powerful short-range attackers.
The Type 055 guided-missile destroyer has been developed entirely in China, and it breaks new ground for the country in the design and assembly of large naval vessels, according to english.chinamil.com.cn. The armaments are also new for the Chinese navy.
"The destroyer is equipped with new type of air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare weapon," according to the website.
China is producing warships at a rapidly as it modernises its navy, which has been taking an increasingly prominent role among the country's armed forces, reports edition.CNN.com.
The state media said that the navy commissioned 18 ships, including destroyers, corvettes and guided-missile frigates in 2016. The new ship is comparable in size to the latest destroyers fielded in Asian waters by the US, Japan and South Korea.
The Type 055 will be a central part of future Chinese aircraft carrier battle groups, Li Jie, a researcher with the PLA Naval Military Academic Research Institute, said in a February article on the PLA's website.
"Type 055 guided-missile destroyer carries medium-long-range and medium-short range air-defense missiles, which can significantly improve its overall air defense capability," he said. "It also has a strong anti-submarine capability, so it is much more able to protect aircraft carrier battle group than the Type-052D destroyer currently in service."
The new warship will have more than 100 vertical launch tubes for missiles with the ability to strike targets 1,000 to 2,000 km away, according to the PLA report.
China's current Type 052 destroyers carry only 64 missiles. The Type 055 also features stealth characteristics, the PLA post said, including a small radar cross section and low noise, infrared and electromagnetic radiation.
Currently locked in a race for domination in the Indian Ocean region with India, China has taken a significant leap over India with the launch of 055.
Weighing in when fully armed at more than 12,000 tonnes, the colossal Type 055 is considerably larger and more powerful than India's latest Project- 15B "Visakhapatnam" class destroyers which have still not been commissioned, reported NDTV.com.
India's latest destroyers will displace close to 8,200 tonnes when completely armed and are designed to carry a mix of nearly 50 surface-to-air, anti-ship and land attack missiles. In contrast, China's giant cruiser will combine nearly 120 missiles, making it one of the most heavily-armed ships in the world, the report said.
China has commissioned five Type 52D destroyers thought to be similar in capability to India's Visakhapatnam class warships. While India has planned seven of these warships, China plans a fleet of at least 18 ships of this class.
With inputs from Reuters
Updated Date: Jun 29, 2017 17:21 PM