- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

China is developing an advanced guided missile cruiser that represents a major step forward in Beijing’s large-scale naval warfare buildup.

Images of a land-based mock-up of the new warship were disclosed recently on the Chinese Internet.

The ship has been identified as the first cruiser called Type 055.

In general, cruisers are bigger than destroyers, but smaller than battleships.

The new cruiser is expected to feature an advanced long-range radar and is expected to be part of China’s offensive missile-shooting ships and its new missile defense system, according to naval analysts.

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A congressional naval warfare analyst said China’s first cruiser is a significant naval warfare advancement for the Chinese.

“Until now, we have known only about Chinese frigates and destroyers. A cruiser would go beyond that and would be another marker of the scope of China’s naval modernization effort,” the analyst told Inside the Ring. “No other country in the world today — not even the United States — is currently planning a new cruiser.”

The Navy’s current 30-year shipbuilding plan does not include any cruisers, although Zumwalt-class destroyers, weighing more than 15,000 tons, blur the line between destroyer and cruiser.

China’s new cruiser is believed to be in the 10,000-ton range, putting it roughly on par with Aegis destroyers that weigh about 9,500 tons.

“A Chinese ship of roughly 10,000 tons would not be significantly larger than ships in our fleet that we call destroyers,” the analyst said.

Rick Fisher, a Chinese military affairs analyst, also said the new Chinese cruiser is a major development.

Photos show a mock-up of the new Type 055 cruiser being built in Wuhan.

“From the model in Wuhan we can estimate that it will have a balanced offensive and defensive armament suite suited for the role of protecting aircraft carriers and other capital ships as part of new large and wide-ranging naval battle groups,” said Mr. Fisher, who is with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

“This, in turn, means that China is quickly adding to its largely East-Asia focused military buildup, the future mission to project power well beyond Asia.”

In addition to the Type 055 and a new attack submarine called the Type 039C submarine, China is building a strategic power projection aircraft called the Y-20 heavy military transport along with new medium weight mechanized armor vehicles.

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