China Refits Older Warships for a Bigger Punch

ASIA TIMES — The Chinese Navy (PLAN) has been expanding its power with a series of new, more capable surface warships like the 052D guided missile destroyers (DDG) and 054A frigates, while preparing its Type 055 cruiser for a launch at decade’s end. but equally notable is how it is also spending big bucks to update its older warships to make them relevant in A2/AD operations.

When the Type 051B destroyer “Shenzhen” (167) was originally commissioned in 1998, it was China’s biggest surface warship at 6,100 tons. However, limitations on Chinese technology at the time meant that instead of the originally planned vertical launch system (VLS) for rapid fire of air defense missiles, the Shenzhen had to make do with an 8 missile launcher of short ranged (10km-15km) HQ-7 SAMs. But nearly two decades later, that mistake is being corrected.

Put back in the shipyard in 2015, new photos now indicate that the Shenzhen is receiving a total of 32 VLS in front of its superstructure. Those 32 HQ-16 medium range (50-60km) SAMs have completely replaced the HQ-7 launcher. This is a significant gain, quadrupling the ship’s available fire power and 16 times the area covered by missile. The Shenzhen is also getting two Type 1130 Gatling cannons on top of its helicopter hangar; each eleven barreled Type 1130 can spit out 10,000 one pound 30mm shells a minute at incoming supersonic missiles. These upgrades will increase the Shenzhen’s defense against anti-ship missile, enemy aircraft and enable it to provide some level of air defense cover to other warships near it.

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