Thursday, October 3, 2013

First Chinese 052D Destroyer Conducting Sea Trials

China has begun sea trials of the first 052D destroyer that will succeed the six 052C destroyers that preceded it. The ship still needs to have some equipment fitted, but largely confirm an earlier assessment made compared to the 052C destroyer.

The 052D destroyer is basically an improved version of the 052C using the same hull design and propulsion already introduced with its predecessors. Most of the changes are centered internally around the weapons, sensors and other equipment.

The new 64-cell Vertical Launch System (VLS) lacks the shared exhaust found on the previous hot launch VLS design of the 054A class, indicating its support for combined hot and cold launch.

The 052D may be the first ship to be commissioned with such an ability, although other Navies also look set to introduce similar capability. The traditionally hot launch American MK41 VLS was recently used to launch a cold launch Sea Ceptor missile using a special adapter.

Cold launch capability is likely with the European hot launch SYLVER VLS design with the integration of the Sea Ceptor. Since the SYLVER and MK 41 especially are widely used, it's quite possible that there will be many ships in the not too distant future that are compatible with both hot and cold launched missiles.
However, one important distinction between these two systems and the Chinese VLS design is that the Chinese system was designed explicitly for both hot and cold launch missiles from the outset, while western hot launch systems had to use a work around to integrate such a capability.

As such, the Chinese system is not held back by legacy requirements, but can be made more flexible depending on the appropriate situation to take advantage of the benefits afforded by both systems.

Even when using cold launch missiles, the MK 41 retains the shared exhaust needed for hot launch which continues to take up space and weight when it's not needed. This negates some of the benefits of using a cold launch missile.

Another notable change in the 052 destroyer are the sensors. Besides the radar arrays, the stern now apparently features an enlarged opening similar to the ones found on recent 054A class ships that have been launched.

Such an opening could indicate a towed array sonar which has a "fish" attached at the end for improved Anti-Submarine Warfare. This type of attached vehicle has room to carry a more sensitive sonar which can better detect submarines.

To aid detection, the towed vehicle "fish" could be lowered into different thermal layers of the ocean similar to a variable depth sonar, but at a distance from the ship where it's less susceptible to ship interference and noise.


Credit original poster, via Chinese Internet

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