The Luhai-class Type 051B destroyer, Shenzhen, has participated in numerous military operations, but it also worth noting that it has made port calls to numerous countries, making it a star in naval diplomacy.
But don’t let its statesmanship role mislead you — the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) warship now has a not-so secret weapon, that gives it the capability to devastate any floating target, including enemy aircraft carriers.
The warship, the only one of its class, now packs a major-league punch with 16 container launchers for the YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missile, according to a report by Peter Suciu at The National Interest.
Forbes noted that a volley of YJ-12s could pose a significant threat to even the most sophisticated air defense system. It also has a large warhead that could make it potentially devastating even to capital warships such as aircraft carriers.
Also known as the CM-302 in its export name, the YJ-12 employs a ramjet engine that allows it to cruise at supersonic speed Mach 2 to 3, or a maximum range of 280 to 400 kilometers per hour, the report said.
The missile utilizes an inertial guidance system that is coupled with a global navigation satellite system (GNSS). The new missiles are also reportedly being refitted to the PLAN’s Sovremenny-class destroyers, which are based on Russian designs.
At the time of its introduction in 1999, the Shenzhen was the largest surface combatant vessel ever commissioned by the PLAN, but despite its increased size and displacement, the destroyer did not feature any significant improvements in weapons systems and sensors and was largely seen to be deployed with rather “meager armament,” the report said.
The latter included a single HHQ-7 short-range anti-aircraft missile launch, just four twin 76mm guns, and eight YJ-83 subsonic sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM).
Experts say the YJ-83 boasted an impressive range, but it lacked the strategic impact of the YJ-12 – which has both speed and range.
All this explains the efforts of the Chinese to refit and upgrade the warship. In recent years the warship’s Type 381A radar was upgraded to the improved Type 382 and additional Type 364 radar systems.
And last November the Shenzhen returned from its most recent major refit, which included the installation of an HHQ-16 vertical launch system consisting of four sets of eight units, allowing it to host 32 ship-to-air missiles to shoot down incoming hostile aircraft and missiles.