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Type 051 Luda-class guided missile destroyer

The Type 051 Luda-class guided missile destroyer, the first anti-ship missile destroyers designed and built in China, are generally similar to the smaller Soviet Kotlin class. Intended for anti-ship strikes, the primary offensive armament is pair of "Sea Eagle I" ship-to-ship missiles.

The combat potential provided by the high speed and long range of this design was compromised by the lack of an air defense ability. In common with the Soviet Kotlin class, the Luda class ships originally had no ship-to-air missiles for self-protection, a deficiency which the Soviet Navy eventually remedied with the SAM Kotlin class. The Luda-class destroyers may be the first Chinese warships to incorporate a combat direction system.

Destroyer research began in the late-fifties at the Seventh Academy. By the mid-sixties, the No. 701 Institute, which was under the auspices of the Seventh Academy, began developing a first-generation guided missile destroyer. The destroyer's standards were to have 3,000 tons of displacement or more and to be powered by steam power. The destroyer would be armed with both 130mm and 57mm guns, depth charges, sonar, and radar.

The design of the destroyer was approved by the National Planning Commission, the Office of Industry of National Defence, and the Commission of Science and Technology for National Defence in June 1967. Construction began in 1968 in the Dalian shipyard.

For the most part, the Chinese lacked any expertise in developing a guided missile destroyer. The technology of producing a guided missile system on a destroyer was primarily developed by the No. 701, No. 713 Institute and the Third Academy of the Seventh MMB. Eventually, the Chinese developed an effective scheme to equip its destroyers with guided missiles.

By December 1971, the first destroyer constructed was delivered to the PLAN. By September 1973, a destroyer conducted a successful single shot and salvo missile tests. Both the PLAN and the Sixth MMB appraised a design scheme for a destroyer.

Three major variants have been produced, with at least 16 and as many as 17 units built between 1972 and 1991.

  • Luda I initial basic configuratuion, though with considerable variations in armament and electronics among units. While most sources report that units 160-166 were built at Guangzhou Shipyard, some sources suggest these units were built at Dalian Shipyard. The PLAN continued to improve the launching system and the destroyer's capabilities at sea. In one instance, the main boiler intake and exhaust pipe of the destroyer was significantly improved. The first destroyers had two high-power steam turbines, four boilers and 18 steam auxiliaries complemented by 27 electric ones for the ship's propulsion system. The performance of the boiler initially was inhibited by a lack of wind supply to cause the complete combustion of the ships 20 injectors. As a result, the ship couldn't reach its full potential speed. As a solution, the conduit cap and the scheme of the blowers was redesigned. As a result, the wind path was improved, promoting the combustion of the engines injectors, and thus improving the speed.
  • Luda II added the 8-cell HQ-7 SAM system along with a helicopter deck and hangar replacing the aft gun armament. All sources agree that two Luda II' Class units were so modified, and that the pennant numbers are 105 and 109, but sources diverge as to whether 109 is the Kaifeng or the Dalian.
  • Luda III features improved sonars, SSMs, and electronics on a single ship, DD166 Zhuhai. Some sources report this as a 'Luda-II' class, and identify helicopter-capable 'Luda-IIs' as 'Luda-I' class. The original Luda I design has been extensively modernized, primarily for ASW missions, in the Luda-III class (type 051G, 3,730t full loaded). The new destroyer of the Chinese navy was equipped with the Type SJD-II sonar system and the SJD-4 sonar. Developed by the No. 706 Institute and the No. 726 and 461 plant, both sonar systems was capable of detecting a submarine through poor conditions at 18 knots. The system also supplemented the destroyer's anti-submarine warfare capabilities, guiding the deployment of the ship's depth charges. Initially only one vessel was identified (hull number 166, possibly changed to 168 for overseas deployment), but more Luda-Is are expected to be upgraded to the Luda-III standard in the future. Some sources suggest that the Luda-II class DDG-109 Kaifeng was been upgraded by 2000 with 16 C-801 SSMs and an octuple Crotale SAM system and fire control radar, as well as possible sonar modifications, bringing it up to Luda III class.

In regards to its anti-air capabilities, the first-generation destroyer were later equipped with a phase-scan, three-coordinate surveillance radar that had anti-jamming capabilities. The radar was developed by the No. 724 Institute after ten years of research.

The PLA Navy's missile-equipped warships -- the Jiangwei-class frigates, the later versions of the Luda-class destroyers, and the Luhu-class destroyers -- were probably the first Chinese warships to have combat direction systems that provide tactical integration of shipboard sensors and weapons.

The State Council and CMC modernized its fleet of first generation destroyers by retrofitting them with new technology to improve their combat systems. Emphasis was placed on the electronics and the development of a combat-intelligence-command system. Improvements to the ships were made in the Dalian shipyard in 1987, which resulted in improved weapon systems, living conditions, and most significantly in electronic counter measures. The newly improved destroyers were made available to the PLAN in 1989.

One unit of this class, DD110 Dalian attached to the North China Sea Fleet, was a showcase ship which handled tasks related to foreign affairs. In the eight years between 1986 and 1993, the "Dalian" completed 22 diplomatic missions and received heads of state, military leaders, and warships from 18 countries. Another unit of this class, No. 160 [name unknown], was lost in an explosion in August 1978. Type 051 guided missile destroyer Nanchang was officially decommissioned as of 08 September 2016, after serving in the Chinese Navy for almost 34 years. Nanchang was China's last active Type 051 destroyer. Type 051 destroyers were China's first generation of domestically-manufactured missile destroyers. The first Type 051 destroyer was commissioned on Dec. 31, 1971, and was later named Jinan. The commissioning of Jinan marked a historic moment for China, as that was when the country became capable of controlling its surrounding seas. Nanchang began to serve in the navy in 1982. Two years later, it sailed and anchored, for the first time, at the southernmost shoal of Zengmu Reef in the South China Sea during a 35-day patrol mission to the Nansha Islands, Navy Today reported. The Type 051 destroyers have since been serving as coastal defense in the Nansha Islands. The decommissioned destroyer was sent back to Nanchang, Jiangxi province, where it will become a major tourist attraction at a local military-themed park.

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