In what could be classified as another act of muscle-flexing, China commissioned its biggest and most advanced surface warship yet, the Nanchang missile destroyer in the port city of Qingdao on Sunday.
This comes a day after a big achievement for the Indian Navy, where it landed the naval version of the Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) for the first time on INS Vikramaditya, India’s biggest aircraft carrier.
Speaking to the IANS, Indian Navy Spokesperson Vivek Madhwal said “With this feat, the indigenously developed niche technologies specific to deck based fighter operations have been proven,” This will now pave the way to develop and manufacture the twin-engine deck based fighter for the Indian Navy.”
While the purpose of the activity seems quite clear for India, it now puts the country into a select group of nations capable of landing and taking off an aircraft from a naval carrier deck.
Nanchang missile destroyer – Commissioned by People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the Type 055 destroyer was first launched on June 28, 2017, and is equipped with new air defence, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons.
The Nanchang expected to form a formidable partnership with Liaoning, the country’s first aircraft carrier in an aircraft carrier battle group. With a displacement of more than 10,000 tons, the Type 055 is a 180-meter-long, 20-meter-wide guided-missile destroyer with 112 vertical launch missile cells capable of launching a combination of surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, land-attack missiles and anti-submarine missiles.
While the commissioning marks the PLAN’s leap from the third generation to the fourth generation of destroyers, it an aggressive step taken by Beijing as it seeks to operate further from its shores and make its way into the Pacific.
The growing presence of China in the Indian Ocean has already raised eyebrows in New Delhi, with the Chinese Navy having already acquired a logistic base at Djibouti and the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka.
“No nation has invested as much as China in shipbuilding. It is a challenge; we keep a close eye on their presence and deployments… it is here to stay,” said Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, on a 4-day visit to Britain early this year.
With more 055s planned, China is the only country known for building such warships and with its efforts to expand its ever-developing arsenal, the development is something India should monitor closely.