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.