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Khafee

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Type 055 destroyer joins PLA Navy carrier group for first time in deployment east of Taiwan

07 April 2021
by Andrew Tate

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A screengrab from CCTV 7 video footage released on 6 October 2020 showing PLAN Type 055-class destroyer Nanchang . The vessel recently joined the escort group for aircraft carrier Liaoning for the first time. (CCTV 7)

The People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN’s) lead Type 055 (Renhai)-class destroyer, Nanchang (pennant number 101), has for the first time joined the escort group for the aircraft carrier Liaoning and, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defense, deployed into the Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan on 3 April.

Japan Self-Defense Force aircraft and a destroyer identified the other Chinese supporting ships as the Type 052D (Luyang III)-class destroyers Chengdu (120) and Taiyuan (131), the Type 054A (Jiangkai II)-class frigate Huanggang (577), and the Type 901 (Fuyu)-class fast replenishment ship Hulunhu (965), and monitored the carrier group as it passed through the Miyako Strait south of Okinawa.

In a statement released on 5 April, People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) spokesperson Senior Captain Gao Xiucheng said the group was conducting a “routine” training exercise in waters around Taiwan. However, a report published the following day by the Chinese state-owned Global Times newspaper was headlined, “PLA carrier, warplanes surround Taiwan in drills, in show of capability to cut off foreign intervention”.

The report also referred to the presence of Chinese military aircraft in the airspace near Taiwan. The Ministry of National Defense in Taipei stated that 10 PLA aircraft had entered the southern part of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on 5 April. These were identified as four J-16 and four J-10 fighter aircraft, a Y-8 maritime patrol aircraft, and a KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft.
 

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China Commissions a Type 055 DDG, a Type 075 LHD and a Type 094 SSBN in a Single Day

In a what is likely a first ever, China yesterday commissioned three major vessels into the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN or Chinese Navy) fleet: A Type 055 Destroyer (NATO designation: Renhai-class cruiser), a Type 075 LHD (NATO designation: Yushen-class) and a Type 094 SSBN (NATO Designation: Jin-class).

24 Apr 2021

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From left to right: A Jin-class SSBN, a Type 055 DDG and a Type 075 LHD joining the PLAN fleet on the same day.


The ceremony took place on 23 April 2021 at the naval base in Sanya (Hainan island) in presence of Chinese president Xi Jinping:
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The historic (over 70,000 tons combined commissioned on a single day) event coincided with the 72th anniversary of the PLAN.

Type 055 Destroyer Dalian (105)

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Type 055 Destroyer Dalian (105)


The Type 055 Destroyer commissioned yesterday is named Dalian (pennant number 105). It is the third ship of the class and the second one commissioned this year (The 2nd Type 055 joined the PLAN in March 2021).

The Type 055 destroyers are the largest surface combatant currently being built in the world with a length of 180 meters, a beam of 20 meters and a draft of 6.6 meters for a full load displacement of about 13,000t (compared to the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruiser and the Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyer both at 9,800 tons or the Royal Navy Type 45 at about 8,500 tons). Their official PLAN designation is “10,000-ton class destroyer.” while the US Department of Defense have been calling them “cruisers” since 2017.

First ship of the class, ‘Nanchang’ was launched on June 28, 2017 at the Jiangnan Changxing Shipyard in Shanghai and the second one was launched in April 2018 at the same shipyard. Two more Type 055 were launched in 2018, two more in 2019 and and additional two in 2020 bringing the total of hulls currently in the water to eight. The first ship-in-class, Nanchang (101) was commissioned on 12 January 2020.

The current Type 055’s weapons fit includes:
  • A 130 mm H/PJ-38 main gun
  • 112 VLS silos
  • A H/PJ-11 CIWS with a fire rate of 10,000 rd/min
  • A HQ-10 short-range missiles
  • Decoy launchers
  • Torpedoes.
The silos are split in two areas: 64x cells forward and 48x cells aft, just in front of the ship’s double hangar. They are of the same model as those used on Type 052D, compatible with both hot and cold launch missiles thanks to the Concentric Canister Launcher (CCL) concept. The PLAN is set to fit its first few Type 055 with HQ-9B anti-aircraft missiles with a range of 200 km, YJ-18A anti-ship missiles, a new type of medium range anti-aircraft missile and land attack cruise missiles based on the YJ-18 family, ie, practically the same as those already found on Type 052D destroyers. It is also likely that the new anti-submarine missile Yu-8A is among the ship’s weapons fit.

Type 075 LHD Hainan (31)

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Type 075 LHD Hainan (31). Note the many Changhe Z-18 helicopters on deck.

The Type 075 Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) commissioned yesterday is named Hainan (pennant number 31). It is the lead ship of the class. The vessel was launched in September 2019 and started sea trials in August 2020 . The Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai already built two more vessels in the class. The second one was launched in April 2020 and started its sea trials in December 2020. The third one was launched in January this year. This represents an impressive rate of one LHD launched every 6 months.

The Chinese Navy officially started development work on the Type 075 in 2011. The project called for a helicopter carrier displacing more than 30,000 tonnes. Its aim is likely to increase the “vertical” amphibious assault capability with the very mountainous East Coast of Taiwan in mind.

As for its specifications, rumors speak of “36,000 tons of displacement”, “capacity of 28 helicopters”, “diesel engine with the 12,000 kW 16PC2-6B” and “four CIWS including two HQ-10 and two H/PJ-11”.

The first Type 075 was constructed in record time (this has become the norm nowadays, for Chinese shipbuilding: extremely fast construction pace that no one can match). A total of eight LHDs are said to be on order for the PLAN while a larger version is rumored to be planned (sometimes referred as Type 076).

Type 094 SSBN Long March 18

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Type 094 SSBN Long March 18

The third (and not the least important) vessel to be commissioned during the historic event was a Type 094 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). The Changzheng (Long March ) 18 is likely the 6th (or 7th?) Type 094 (also known as Type 09-IV) submarine of the class for the PLAN. It received pennant number 421. The lead boat of the class was commissioned in 2007.

The Type 094 is armed with 12 JL-2 SLBMs, each with an estimated range of 7,400 km (4,600 mi). Submarines of this class have a length of 135 meters.
 

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China Is Testing A Beastly 20-Barrel Naval Gatling Gun

The new weapon has nearly twice as many barrels as the largest close-in weapon system in service now with China's Navy.

By Joseph Trevithick
May 20, 2021
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Pictures have emerged online that indicate testing of a new and absolutely fearsome-looking naval point air and missile defense system has been going on in China since January. The available images show that this weapon system notably features a Gatling-style rotary cannon with a whopping 20 barrels, nearly twice as many the largest close-in weapon system, or CIWS, now in service with the People's Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN.

The pictures, which first emerged on Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo and are now circulating on social media, indicate that this system has already undergone at least three rounds of live-fire tests, in January, March, and April of this year. It is unclear what entities might be involved in the design of this weapon and whether it is expected to lead to an operational system or is simply a proof of concept.

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An image showing an apparent test of a 20-barrel Gatling-type naval close-in weapon system.

It's also not clear what the caliber of weapon is, what kind of rate of fire it might be intended to achieve, and how fast it has been able to fire. Gatling-type weapons, in general, are well known for their extremely high rates of fire compared to single-barrel guns or even other multi-barrel designs.

In China experimenting with 20-barelled CIWS, as I understand... pic.twitter.com/A1imN9CllX
— Yuri Lyamin (@imp_navigator) May 20, 2021

The mounting the weapon is seen sitting in fits with the general shape and construction of other naval close-in weapon systems (CIWS), which are installed on warships as a last line of defense, primarily against incoming missiles. China already has two domestic CIWS designs that use Gatling-style weapons, the Type 730, and its associated variants, and the Type 1130. The Type 730 features a seven-barrel 30mm Gatling-style cannon, while the Type 1130, first seen on China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and now present on other Chinese warships, is another 30mm design with 11 barrels.

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A Chinese LD-2000, which uses the same turret, seen the rear of the vehicle, as the Type 730 CIWS.

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A Type 1130 CIWS installed on a Chinese Type 054A frigate.


It also worth noting that the Type 730 is at least very externally similar to the Dutch Goalkeeper CIWS, which uses a seven-barrel GAU-8/A Avenger cannon, the same gun found on the A-10 Warthog ground-attack aircraft.
The Type 730 reportedly has an adjustable rate of rate fire, reportedly can, at maximum, spit out nearly 6,000 rounds per minute. The Type 1130's maximum rate of fire is reported to be at least 10,000 rounds per minute.

It also worth noting that the Type 730 is at least very externally similar to the Dutch Goalkeeper CIWS, which uses a seven-barrel GAU-8/A Avenger cannon, the same gun found on the A-10 Warthog ground-attack aircraft.

The Type 730 reportedly has an adjustable rate of rate fire, reportedly can, at maximum, spit out nearly 6,000 rounds per minute. The Type 1130's maximum rate of fire is reported to be at least 10,000 rounds per minute.



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A Chinese Type 1130 CIWS in action.

Theoretically, with Gatling-type guns, the rate of fire is mainly determined just by how fast the barrels spin. The iconic American 20mm Vulcan cannon, with its six barrels, is typically set to fire at either 4,000 or 6,000 rounds per minute, but has fired faster during testing. The Phalanx CIWS, which the U.S. Navy, as well as others, use, and which is in service in its ground-based Centurion configuration with the U.S. Army, uses a variant of the Vulcan.


Compared especially to single-barrel designs, Gatling-style weapons do have the inherent benefit of being able to distribute heat build-up and other wear and tear among their multiple barrels. At the same time, they can still overheat and be fired to the point of destruction.


As is evidenced by the reported rate of fire on the Chinese Type 1130 CIWS as compared to the Type 730, adding additional barrels can present one pathway to safely increasing how many rounds per minute a gun of this type can shoot. So, this new 20-barrel weapon could very well be able to operate reliably at a maximum rate of fire thousands of rounds per minute higher than even that of the Type 1130.

This would be an alternative to other methods of increasing the immediate firepower for a CIWS, such as adding additional guns. That is a route that the Russians, and the Soviets before them, have taken, most recently in the form of the Panstir-ME system, which blends elements of the Kashtan CIWS with portions of the Pantsir-S1 ground-based point air defense system. Pantsir-ME, like Kashtan, has two GSh-30K six-barrel 30mm rotary cannons, each with a maximum rate of fire between 9,000 and 10,000 rounds-per-minute, but also adds eight surface-to-air missiles. Kashtan is in service in China on various warships, as well.


As China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) continues to expand the size and capabilities of its surface fleets, including with the addition of larger, more advanced vessels, including multiple aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, the demand for more capable CIWSs is only likely to grow. This has already been evidenced by the addition of the new Type 1130 to the Liaoning. Though the discussion is more commonly framed around the increasing threat that advanced Chinese, as well as Russian, anti-ship missiles, including longer-range and faster-flying hypersonic and ballistic types, present to other navies, the PLAN faces the same realities.

A CIWS with a 20-barrel Gatling-type cannon with a very high rate of fire would, by definition, be able to put out more rounds, faster. This would be particularly valuable for engaging existing and future advanced anti-ship missiles, which are increasingly faster and stealthier, features that could shrink the available engagement window for close-in defenses. At the same time, unless the magazine capacity is similarly increased, this weapon might only be capable of firing a small number of total bursts before needing to be reloaded.

So, while it remains to be seen if this particular 20-barrel design will make its way into operational service, it's hardly surprising that the PLAN is looking at bigger and badder CIWSs that can spew out shells at even more blistering rates of fire as new threats continue to emerge.

UPDATE, 7:35 PM EST:
George William Herbert, an independent expert on missiles and nuclear weapons, has noticed that the side view picture of this new Chinese CIWS firing appears to show two barrels, one at the 12 o'clock position and one at the six o'clock position, firing at once. It is possible that ammunition could be fed in, and then ejected, at two separate points to support this method of operation, which would further increase the gun's overall rate of fire.


That would double rate of fire again, each barrel firing twice per full revolution. That’s clever. Very clever. If anyone at the manufacturer is reading this, well done. That’s a worthy idea and advancement on the state of the art. Congratulations!
— GeorgeWilliamHerbert (@GeorgeWHerbert) May 20, 2021


Contact the author: [email protected]
 

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The Unusual Carrier Killer Capability Of The Chinese Navy’s Strategic Bomber
H I Sutton
23 Oct 2021

Facing aircraft carriers from the U.S. Navy, Royal Navy, Indian Navy and Japanese, China is looking for a counter. The Chinese Navy (PLAN) has developed a unique 'Carrier Killer' weapon for its H-6 strategic bomber.

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The H-6 bomber is derived from the Soviet-era Tu-16 Badger bomber. It is a much more modern plane however. Of particular interest is the massive anti-ship ballistic missile, dubbed a 'Carrier Killer'.


China’s recent test of a hypersonic ‘Orbital Bombardment System’ has been characterized as a ‘Sputnik moment’. The world is only just waking up to Chinese advances in strategic weapons technologies. Among a raft of new weapons, which increasingly do not have direct equivalents in the West, are anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs). One of these, an air-launched version, appears to include a hypersonic maneuvering missile.

The carrier of this missile is a plane which would have been familiar to those watching the Sputnik-1 satellite launch in 1957. But the modern Chinese Navy (PLAN) iteration, known as H-6, is far from outdated.

The Badger By Any Other Name…

China’s Xian H-6 is a direct evolution of the vintage Tupolev Tu-16 BADGER. In its original Soviet guise, the aircraft was seen as a medium bomber, but with a long range. It was not as large as the Tu-95 BEAR or M-4 BISON bombers, or as fast as the Tu-22M BACKFIRE. And in Russian service it was retired near 30 years ago. But in its Chinese form, it has been transformed into a potent bomber which is still formidable today. The Chinese models are of course much newer, largely dating from the last 20 years, and have much better engines.

The current Chinese Navy version of the Tu-16 Badger has a number of basic upgrades besides avionics and weapons. The crew is reduced to three in a remodeled forward fuselage. And they are provided with ejection seats. The glazed nose is replaced by a large radome and the tail gun by an auxiliary power unit.

Carrier Killer Missile

The most formidable capability seen on the H-6 is believed to be an anti-ship ballistic missile. This massive weapon is the largest air-launched missile in the world. A single round has to be slung underneath the fuselage. And its primary prey is likely to be enemy aircraft carriers. For this reason, it has been widely dubbed a ‘carrier killer’. As far as strategic bombers go this capability is unique.

It consists of a large rocket booster approximately 9 meters (33 feet) long. This is mated to a hypersonic missile which can maneuver to make it harder to counter and adjust for terminal guidance. The exact form of the terminal phase has not been confirmed. But China has shown a hypersonic glide body with its DF-17 land based missile.

The hypersonic payload is likely to include a maneuvering reentry vehicle which allows it to hit a moving target. And it means that it much harder to counter because it’s flight trajectory is unpredictable. Even without an explosive warhead the kinetic energy alone is likely to be enough to destroy a warship.

Anti-ship ballistic missiles are becoming a theme as more countries try to directly counter carrier battle groups and other large and well defended surface combatants. Other countries with them include Iran and Russia, and possibly India.

Other missiles carried include the workhorse KD-63. This is capable of both land attack and anti-ship attacks, but is an older weapon. It is typically carried in conjunction with newer missiles. For the land attack role these are the KD-20 air launched cruise missile. This is broadly equivalent to an air launched Tomahawk. For the anti-ship role it is the YJ-12. This is a large supersonic weapon loosely equivalent to the famous Russian Moskit (SS-N-22 Sunburn).

The H-6 is a versatile platform and can also carry out reconnaissance missions. The cutting edge of this is as a mothership for the WZ-8 drone. Like the ballistic missile this is likely to be slung under the central fuselage.

Outlook

With its array of advanced missiles, and the ASBM in particular, the H-6 gives the Chinese Navy extended reach. And when combined with the latest warships and submarines, underscores their focus on countering high value surface assets.

This has to be regarded in context of US Navy, and now British or French, carrier battle groups. The ASBM program shows how highly the Chinese Navy regards the threat from aircraft carriers. At the same time, China is busy building up its own aircraft carrier capability.
 

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The Chinese army conducted a large-scale military exercise on the landing of amphibious assaults on the coast of one of the islands, apparently, the landing on Taiwan is being practiced during the exercises. On the video, you can see the entire cycle of the landing operation, from the destruction of coastal fortifications by floating self-propelled artillery installations to the landing and capture of the island.

 
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