Type 051B Luhai-class / Luyang-class Multirole Destroyer
The Type 051B [not 052 or 052A] Luhai-class multirole destroyers represent a significantly enlarged development of the Luhu-class destroyer design with some evident radar signature reduction features, and [eventually] significant air defense enhancements.
China's navy 167 "Shenzhen" guided missile destroyer is a special but indispensable "single seedling" in the history of China's navy. It is the first ship of the Type 051B ship and the only one. It has played an important role in the history of the Chinese navy. The 167 ship was the beginning of China's independent development of large-scale destroyers. Before it, the largest destroyer of China's navy was just a 3,500-ton 051 brigade-class destroyer (the purchase of the 956 modern class was 167 years after the completion of the project). The 167 ship pulled the tonnage of China's destroyers from 3,500 tons to 5,000 tons (5000 tons and 6800 tons), laying the foundation for China's subsequent 052B/C and 051C. The 167 ship also tested China's new steam turbine, which later became the power unit of the No. 16 aircraft carrier.
The type 051B has an inter-generational significance. Although it has only one, its construction and entry into service was a watershed of China's large-scale autonomous construction of large-scale surface warships. Before the 167 ships entered the service, the Navy's latest and largest warships are only the Type 052, which was commissioned in the mid-1990s, and the 112 Harbin and 113 Qingdao ships with a displacement of 4,000 tons.
However, after the completion of the 167 ship, there were still a lot of gaps in the Chinese navy. Therefore, although the 167 ship had a mighty appearance, it did not have matching weapons and equipment. The 167 ships are equipped with eight-unit Haihongqi-7-point anti-aircraft missile, one 79A double-100mm main gun, four 76A-type double 37mm anti-aircraft guns, two straight-9 helicopters and two three-in-one fish-7 torpedoes. . The firepower is basically the same as the 2,250-ton Jiangwei II-class frigate, and it does not have the performance of the 6,800-ton hull.
The Luhai-class is 2000 tons larger than the previous Luhu-class, and is equiped with 16 C801/802 SSMs, an 8-cell HQ-7 SAM launcher, and two Z-9A helicoptors. The HQ-7/Crotale short-range SAM appears ineffective against modern sea-skimming missiles attacking from multiple directions.
Construction on the first ship, DD-167 Shenzhen, began in May 1996. This first unit was launched in 1997 and entered sea trials in October 1998. The first Luhai was equiped with only the short-range HHQ-7 SAM, prompting speculation that the next generation DDG (Type 052B?) would have an improved fleet-wide air-defense capability. The configuration of the ship indicated that a vertical launch system [VLS] will eventually installed, though this was not fitted on the initial unit apparently due to delays in the development of the HQ-9 anti-aircraft missile. It was completed in 1999 and entered service, though subsequently may have gone under refit to install VLS for HQ-9 SAM.
At one time there was almost complete confusion concerning the type designation of this class, vastly complicated the already complex task of understanding these ships. Some sources refer to the Luhai as Type 051B, others as Type 52B, and others as Type 54. The Type 051 nomenclature is associated with the very different Luda-class, and it was a bit difficult to understand how the Luhai would be designated as a variant of this class, skipping over the well-attested Type 052 designation of the Luhu-class of which the Luhai-class is a further development. The Type 054 nomenclature later turned out to be associated with the new FFG Jiangkai class of frigates.
The relationship between the Luhai and Luyang classes remains obscure. Prior to 2005 the Luyang nomenclature was extremly poorly attested. In 2001 it was reported that China had begun building a new-generation Luyang-class guided missile heavy destroyer, similar to Sovremennyy-class ships and designed to provide sector air defense for the PLA's first-generation aircraft carrier group. At that time, this was projected to materialize as early as 2003-2005 [which did not]. As of 2002 the Luyang-class missile destroyer was said to be in the design process, characterized at that time as an improved variety of the Sovremenny. China was reportedly acquiring the technology for manufacturing DN-80 turbine engines from Ukraine.
Another notable difference between the previous Luhu-class and Luhai-class and the Luyang is the replacement of the diesel-gas-turbines with gas-turbine engines. This follow-on to the Luhu destroyer has a wider hull (broader beam) to accommodate the different and somewhat larger and bulkier marine gas-turbine engine. The post-Tiananmen sanctions imposed by the US precluded acquisition of additional GE LM 2500 engines like those in the Luhu. These follow-on ships use Ukrainian G525000 gas turbines, selected due to a combination of technical and political factors.
The People's Liberation Army Navy upgraded the CNS Shenzhen guided missile destroyer, once the most powerful domestically made warship in the Navy, amid a massive modernization of the country's naval arsenal. The only Type 051B Luhai-class ship, the 6,000-metric ton Shenzhen entered service with the South Sea Fleet in 1999 and was then the largest and most advanced domestically made warship of the Navy for about five years until the first Type 052B destroyer, CNS Guangzhou, was commissioned in 2004.
In December 2019 the No. 167 Shenzhen Type 051B Luhai-class destroyer at port was photograqphed with a loading of 16 YJ-12 Eagle-Strike 12A anti-ship missiles. The Chinese Destroyer 167 Shenzhen , the only Class 051B class ship, sailed to Shenzhen City for a four-day stopover, during which the 6,600-ton ship took advantage to open its doors to visitors. The event is all the more interesting when we know that this is the first time since its long renovation, which took place between 2015 and 2017, that Shenzhen is open to the public. As to why the ship was instead equipped with the YJ-12A instead of the YJ-18A, or why the YJ-12A was not integrated into the vertical launch system ... And for that the answer was simple and unique: "There is not enough room".
Another part of the modernization refit, the original HHQ-7 SAM launcher on the bow deck of the Shenzhen was replaced by a 32-cell VLS for the HHQ-16 air-defense missile. The anti-submarine missile control interface has not been installed in the Shenzhen VLS system, unlike all Type 054A frigates. As a result, this retrofitted destroyer can not launch Yu-8 torpedoes from its vertical cells, Shenzhen would be the only ship in the PLAN to have the YJ-12, making it a doubly unique, along with being the only one in its class. The "only" being because the entire Sovremmenny upgrade program seems to be on a limbo. These missiles may be mounted on the Sovremmenny refits.
When the Shenzhen was commissioned, the Navy's destroyer fleet consisted of antiquated models, mostly 3,600-ton Type 051 guided missile destroyer vessels with older weapons and radars. Therefore, the Shenzhen was chosen as the command ship of the South Sea Fleet and has taken part in many overseas visits to show the best image of the Chinese Navy.
Type 052? Luzhou
Matters were further confused when Bill Gertz reported in June 2005 that two Luzhou guided-missile destroyers were under construction. This nomenclature, not previously attested, appears to reference new construction at Dalian of some variant of the Luhai. It was not immediately apparent whether this was the long awaited DDG-X, or a low-end substitute for this ship. This was in fact the case, as this nomenclature was applied to the Type 51C Luzhou AAW DDG.
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