Over recent weeks China defence bloggers have been excited by the emergence of pictures of what appears to be a new class of guided missile destroyer for the Chinese Navy…The hazy pictures on the blogs suggest that one of the vessels – dubbed the PLAN 052D – was launched at the end of last month. At least two others are already under construction.
Chinese warship design tends to evolve gradually. Here the PLAN 052D is no exception – it bears clear links to its predecessor, the 052C.
But it differs in important respects to the extent that many analysts believe what we are seeing is the first of what could be a series of new Chinese warships that could form the backbone of its fleet.
Prof James Holmes, a China-watcher at the US Naval War College, says the chief significance of the new vessel “is that China appears to have settled on a design for a top-of-the-line guided-missile destroyer after a lengthy period of ‘fleet experimentation’ – a gestation period, if you will”.
“One hopes it will finally settle the debate about the direction and permanence of Chinese naval power,” he adds…
James Holmes stresses that the modus operandi of the Chinese navy must also be taken into account when assessing the impact these new ships might have. The 052D may be an inferior vessel to its US counterparts, but it will not be operating alone.
“Let’s keep in mind that China operates its fleet almost entirely within range of shore-based anti-ship missiles, fighter aircraft, and ships like patrol craft and submarines.”
“These provide protective cover for the surface fleet and, Beijing believes (and I agree), that this is the great equaliser.”
“Why go to the effort and expense of building a mirror image of the US Navy if you can hammer away from shore? In short, China doesn’t need a fleet symmetrical to the US Navy to fight on ground of its own choosing, namely the China seas and Western Pacific.”
Meanwhile, Uncle Sugar and our Tory cousins in the UK continue to swear allegiance to the bellicose ideology of the Cold War rolling truckloads of time, money and manpower out onto the oceans of the world. Somehow, the idiots in command of our foreign policy still think that nothing succeeds like imperial might – and one of the best showplaces for that arrogance is afloat.
It’s stupid enough to spend 150% more per military body than needed for defense by stationing that person in one or another of our several hundred garrisons around the world. Spending even more in dollars measured by the ton to produce and sustain a floating edifice that says only one thing to the people of the world – “The United States is the cop of the world!”