China has launched the lead ship of its second-generation Aegis destroyer among a new wave of shipbuilding, while the hull number of the country's first aircraft carrier was also revealed, Chinese online news portals reported.
According to major online military news sites such as Netease, the newest destroyer was launched in a shipyard in Shanghai at the end of August. As the most sophisticated combat ships, Aegis destroyers are commonly referred to as air-defense destroyers equipped with phased array radars and modern ship-to-air missiles, which enable the ships to provide regional air defense shields for the entire fleet.
Meanwhile, photos released by the news portals showed that China's first aircraft carrier, a carrier hull bought from Ukraine and overhauled by the Chinese navy, was painted with the hull number "16."
The carrier may be named after Liaoning Province, as the giant ship was overhauled in Liaoning's Dalian shipyard, the Shandong-based Qilu Evening News reported on Tuesday, adding that the hull number suggested the carrier is one step closer to being commissioned.
The new type destroyer is the highlight in the second wave of massive shipbuilding after 2000. After an interval of about seven years, a total of six follow-up ships of the first-generation Aegis destroyers have been launched in very short intervals since the end of 2010, with at least one already being commissioned this year, according to Modern Ships and other military magazines on the Chinese mainland.
"The mass production of the Aegis destroyers shows that after seven years of sea trials and evaluations of domestic radar and missile systems, the first -generation Aegis destroyers have matured," Lan Yun, editor of Modern Ships, a Beijing-based military magazine, told the Global Times.
The first wave of shipbuilding after 2000 saw the complement of four modern destroyers, among which were the lead and second ships of the first-generation Aegis destroyers dubbed as type 052C, with hull numbers 170 and 171, which were commissioned in 2005.
"Judging from the photos released, the lead ship of the second generation Aegis, presumably type 052D, seems to have a bigger main gun and 64 missile vertical launch tubes that are compatible with several types of missiles," Lan said, noting that the new type of destroyer is more fit to escort the carrier battle group.
"We'll see more ships of the 052D class coming," he said.
Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo told China Central Television in a recent interview on Sunday that the Chinese navy's equipment will witness major improvements in the near future.