Can the U.S. Navy Beat China’s New Type 055 Destroyer In a Fight?


A killer class of warships.

by Kyle Mizokami September 29, 2019

Key point: Although a response is not needed yet, America must figure out its priorities before China builds too many advanced ships.

Does the United States have an answer to China’s new Type 055 destroyers? Does it need one?

On July 3 Dalian shipyard launched two of the big new ships, with some reports suggesting that the class may extend to twenty-four vessels. The ships are large and have more VLS cells than Flight III Arleigh Burke destroyers, although the latter still exceed the former in sensor integration and other capabilities.

Still, with the Navy’s cruiser force aging, does the U.S. Navy need to think seriously about its own large cruiser?

Description:

The Type 055 destroyers are large ships, probably displacing around thirteen thousand tons and carrying 112 vertical launch system (VLS) cells, in addition to a 130-millimeter gun and a wide array of sensors and defensive weapons. They are the world’s largest surface combatants apart from the Zumwalt class destroyers, which really are specialized land attack vessels. The overall production run remains uncertain, with a low estimate of six and a high estimate of twenty-four; much likely depends on how effectively the ship performs in PLAN service.

U.S. Response:

The United States has been slow to develop a replacement to the Ticonderoga class cruisers, which are somewhat smaller than the Type 055. The DDG-1000 class will end after three ships, and in any case the Zumwalts do not perform missions similar to the Type 055. The Obama administration cancelled the CG(X) program after cost projections became excessive. In response to the failure of the DDG(X) and CG(X) programs, the Navy decided to restart the Arleigh Burke program, which had the added benefit of improving ballistic missile defense capabilities. But apart from the Arleigh Burke Flight III ships, the U.S. Navy has no specific large combatants in its long-term plans. At the moment, the FFG(X) program is dominating the U.S. Navy’s procurement attention, as the shortcomings of the Littoral Combat Ship have demonstrated a need to fill the gap between the LCS and the Arleigh Burkes.

But the Ticonderogas will soon reach the end of their useful service lives, as will the oldest of the DDG-51 class of ships. Some have floated the idea of a cruiser based on the hull of the LPD-17, which would allow high energy production, a degree of modularity, and the inclusion of a wide variety of different systems. However, the LPD-17s are large and slow, likely incapable of keeping up with carrier battle groups. Another idea (floated by Tyler Rogoway, among others) is to modify the existing Zumwalt design for cruiser-esque purposes. But as of yet the Navy has made no firm determination about the future of its large surface combatant program.

The Need?

But then there is little obvious need for a direct analogue to specific Chinese ship classes. The existing cruisers and destroyers of the U.S. Navy perform roles essentially similar to that of the Type 055s, even if the latter carry more VLS cells. And the era in which individual ships fight each other independently is long in the past; indeed, even during the dreadnought era individual ship-to-ship comparison rarely played out in actual combat.

In a fight between the United States and China, the U.S. Navy would use a wide variety of air, surface, and subsurface systems to track and destroy the largest units of the PLAN. While the additional VLS systems and sensors of the Type 055 will undoubtedly increase Chinese capabilities, they won’t be directed towards any specific U.S. ship type (other perhaps than aircraft carriers). Similarly, the U.S. Navy will find it far more convenient to sink the Type 055s with submarines and air-launched cruise missiles than it will with any specific ship type. And so the question is less “can the United States match the Type 055” than “what hull or set of hulls will make it easiest to match the capabilities that the Type 055 can offer?” There are a variety of technological developments (VLS, power generation, sensor capability, and future avenues in railguns and lasers) that suggest that size may once again be rewarded in naval architecture; the Type 055s offer China’s initial answer for how to take advantage of these developments, just as the Zumwalts represented an exploration of those capabilities on the U.S. side. Unfortunately, the former seem more likely to see long-term success than the latter.

Wrap

So the short answer to the question “does the United States need to respond to the Type 055” is “no, not in the medium term.” The longer answer is that the U.S. Navy needs to figure out its procurement and shipbuilding policies soon in order to credibly approach design of the next big surface combatant. As the Ticonderogas continue to age, they will leave a gap that a new large warship needs to fill, even if it is never likely to meet the Type 055 in direct combat. China has decided to take advantage of the efficiencies inherent in a large hull-type, not because of any specific competition with the United States, but rather because of the evolution of key technologies. The U.S. Navy can also take advantage of these evolutionary developments, even if it doesn’t specifically think of matching the Type 055, but it needs to sort out its long-term shipbuilding plans.

Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to the National Interest, is author of The Battleship Book . He serves as a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. (This first appeared in mid-2018.)

Source: National Interest “Can the U.S. Navy Beat China’s New Type 055 Destroyer In a Fight?”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


20 Comments on “Can the U.S. Navy Beat China’s New Type 055 Destroyer In a Fight?”

  1. 12345678 says:

    I keep saying this, but National Interest is clickbaiting hot shit. The author disingenuously asserted, with no cause or explanation, that Arleigh Burke’s simply have better sensors and networking than chinese warships, which are asserted to be low-tech but somewhat useful merely because of their size (because bigger = better and battleships dominate the seas, am I right?) In reality, the Type 052C, which was built almost 10 years ago, has an AESA radar – something that only the upcoming flight III Arleigh Burke’s are slated to have. As far as networking goes, you tell me who will have better networking capabilities: the country which implemented 5G or the country which will soon implement fake-5G?

    No notice is given to the Type 055’s extensive RCS-reducing properties, or to the fact that its missiles (both AA and Anti-ship ones) are physically much larger, and far more effective, than what the USN has. Nothing is said about the Type 055’s revolutionary new power generation, giving it the prospect of installing functional railguns and lasers. The picture is painted as if this Type 055 has slightly more VLS cells but is worse in every other way because American wundertech.

    Like

    • 54321 says:

      The NIFC-CA system and the multi-mission SM-6 are the secret sauce for the US Navy. And since the PLAN and Type 055 don’t even have anything even remotely like NIFC-CA , innovation once again will ensure defeat of the Chinese navy. Poor China is at least a generation behind in the arena of war at sea and is falling further behind daily.

      Like

      • komonsense says:

        poor mutilated muslum moron troll…

        Like

      • 12345678 says:

        God damn it, where are all you die-hard US supporters coming from onto this blog?

        NIFC-CA is basically just a data-link network. It is not unique to the US, and as I’ve explained it is very likely much worse than China’s equivalents (FFS, you guys don’t even have AESAs installed on your warships).

        NIFC-CA doesn’t really work when your F-35 carrying aircraft carriers get DF-17’d, btw, or just sunk with conventional submarines (which even very old Chinese subs have already proven they could do).

        The SM-6, while impressive, is no more impressive than the HQ-9Bs which China uses on land and at sea, or the S-300 naval variant which Russia uses. These missiles weigh 1.5 tonnes each, and to suggest that they can intercept even one, let alone many sea-skimming cruise missiles is idiotic.

        >innovation once again will ensure defeat of the Chinese navy.

        Too bad the US can’t innovate anymore.

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    • Joseph says:

      Fiji prime minister Bainamara said in the Pacific Nation Forum that ‘you don’t need to be a high school graduate to realize what the West is doing to smear China’. But obviously most of the Westerners does not even go to high school. Most of Asians go to University after college. Some go to American universities, and recruited by American tech companies. But most of Americans go to community colleges after missing schools. And these community ‘colleges’ are not even in the same level to even American high school. You want the National Interest readers to understand Arleigh Burke, AESA and 5G? I think you overrate them too much. As on National Interest own article, when the USS Wasp is supposedly prowling the SCS with the F-35 onboard, the onlooking Filipino fishermen allegedly recognized the USS Wasp and the onboard F-35 better from their fishing boats. In a sense the National Interest had implied that even the clueless Filipino fishermen have bigger brains than National Interest target readers, the American.

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  2. Steve says:

    Kyle is a one eyed bandit, an incredibly repulsive anti China character.. He just pitched the entire US navy against one lone Chinese 055 warship i.e. using submarines, cruise missiles and whats not to combat a single Chinese warship. Commonsense prevails that all US warships including the science fiction Zumwalts are floating bathtubs waiting to be sunk by China’s 055s in a one to one surface combat.

    Liked by 2 people

    • komonsense says:

      i’ve caught on to how this jap-bastard writes: he uses a sensationalist headline, then changes course halfway thru.

      read the article from the end first. do not get riled up or deceived by the headlines.

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      • Steve says:

        True, but in the last paragraph he is utterly confused what the projections are in relation to technologies and type of ship. One thing its clear, china’s naval power projection is unstoppable.

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    • House says:

      “….US warships including the science fiction Zumwalts are floating bathtubs waiting to be sunk by China’s 055s …

      Yes in comparison to a Chinese 055 a stealthy Zumwalt DOES look like science fiction. The same way a futuristic B-2 looks like something out of science fiction when sitting next to a Chinese H-6 bomber. Innovation is part and parcel to American weapons. China has to copy because innovation is not part of Chinese society.

      Liked by 1 person

      • 12345678 says:

        I would say American technology is science fiction in the sense that it’s fiction: it doesn’t”t work like intended and ends up being an overly expensive, almost make-believe toy. For example, the Type 055 is basically just a Zumwalt that can actually swim without breaking down every 5 minutes, and has 2-3x more VLS capacity and the power generation required to install the weapons it’s designed to use.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Steve says:

        How copy.? With photocopier, facsimile or download off internet.

        Like

      • Steve says:

        All scientist can build science fiction stuff but it has to work, fly or sail. The Zumwalt is a piece of junk, the US has scrapped constructing the Zumbies due to superiority of Chinese 055s. The B2 is obsolete junk, the delicate stealth coating blisters and bubbles like your pimples. The H6ks are better with superior coating.

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      • Joseph says:

        The truth is that it has been overrated if the Zumwalts are ‘floating bathtubs waiting to be sunk by China’s 055s …’. What happened with the Zumwalt in the Panama Canal has shown that it would be a waste of resources to send the 055s only to sink a Zumwalt when a small cheap torpedo boat would do. The Zumwalt suffered catastrophic power failure that it did not even have power to light up its toilet, let alone any radar or countermeasures. The crew could not even access the weapon locker in the event if it was boarded. What other definition of sitting duck on a bath tub could be clearer than the Zumwalt? If the drug cartel would have some malice intention as American does, they would have dispatched a squad of Sicarios to Panama Canal to take over the Zumwalt and tug it to their base and the Zumwalt would have been easy trophy, and it would be ultimate humiliation for the American .

        Liked by 3 people

      • komonsense says:

        “… it doesn’t work as intended and ends up being overly expensive…”–latest example is how well the u.s. patriot anti-missile missiles DIDN’T work in saudi!

        Like

    • 12345678 says:

      I mean, he did phrase the question as “can the US NAVY beat China’s new destroyer in a fight”.

      In that case I guess it can, and that an entire navy is what it takes to beat one PLAN destroyer.

      Like