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Weapons and Equipment Development Procedures

PLAN Headquarters is responsible for overseeing all naval weapon system and equipment development. The PLAN's development cycle for all of its weapon systems and equipment, regardless of how large or small, consists of the following five phases:

  • Theoretical evaluation
  • Program definition
  • Engineering development
  • Design finalization
  • Production finalization

The main responsibilities during the theoretical evaluation phase are to begin examining the proposed technology to meet operational requirements, which includes the entire technology program, development cost, conditions to support the technology, and development time frame forecast. The final step is to report the requirements for the new project to higher authorities for approval.

Once the theoretical evaluation phase is completed, the program definition phase begins. In this phase, the comprehensive development project is implemented by assigning specific responsibilities to all organizations involved in the project. The three main tasks in the program definition phase are as follows:

  • Conduct a theoretical evaluation of the development program
  • Conduct testing that focuses on key technologies and new parts
  • Conduct subsystem trial manufacturing and experimentation

A Design Finalization Committee is responsible for approving each milestone throughout this phase of the project and then reporting the findings to PLAN Headquarters. During the engineering development phase, which can take several years, the factory and associated research institutes are responsible for designing the weapon and producing and testing a prototype.

The design finalization phase involves a comprehensive review and inspection of the new weapon system or equipment throughout the process, including systematic testing of each component of the prototype or prototypes. The PLAN Military Production Finalization Committee is responsible for reviewing and approving each step of the process. During the production finalization phase, the new system is produced for delivery to the operational force. The PLAN also begins training personnel to use, support, and maintain the new system or equipment. Once the new system or equipment enters the operational force, it can still take a lengthy period of time, possibly years, before the system and its personnel are considered combat capable.

The August 2009 US Office of Naval Intelligence report "The People's Liberation Army Navy: A Modern Navy With Chinese Characteristics" stated "In recent years, the most notable upgrade to the PLA(N) surface force has been its shipboard area-air-defense (AAD) capability. Only a decade ago, the longest-range shipborne surface-to-air missile (SAM) was the Crotale-based HHQ-7 (~7nm). Currently the PLA(N) operates new ships with four different SAMs with varying degrees ofAAD capability. These include the Sovremennyy IIII and Luyang I class destroyers (DDGs) with the Russian SA-N-7 (~12-20nm), the Luzhou DDG with the Russian SA-N-20/RIF-M (~80nm),the Luyang II DDG with Chinese HHQ-9 (~55nm), and the]iangkai II class frigate (FFG) with the new vertically-launched HHQ-16 (~20-40nm). These SAM systems are linked on their respective platforms with advanced air-surveillance systems, including the Russian Tombstone and Top Plate and Chinese Dragon Eye phased-array radar.

"The development of a sea-based AAD capability is critical to the PLA(N)'s aspirations of operating in "distant seas." It allows PLA(N) combatants to operate outside of shore-based air defense more confidently, with long range SAMs capable of engaging air targets outside of air-to-surface weapons range. It also increases the efficiency of the surface force by allowing a single ship to focus on air defense for an entire group.

In addition, the PLA(N) has upgraded its ability to engage surface ships through the acquisition of advanced anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) and over-the-horizon targeting (OTH-T) systems. Four Sovremennyy I/II DDGs carry the SSN-22 Sunburn (~130nm), while the Luyang II DDG is fitted with the newly developed YJ-62 (-120nm) and most other combatants carry the YJ-8A ASCM (~65nm). The use of shipboard helicopters, the Mineral-ME radar, and datalinks give the PLA(N) an improving capability to carry out OTH-T operations."

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:46:30 ZULU