The US has often accused China of stealing designs and technology of its military hardware. Now, a similar charge has been leveled against America not by Beijing but by many social media users.
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Speculation is rife about whether the US Navy’s recently unveiled concept of a next-generation destroyer — DDG(X)— is based on China’s Type 055 guided-missile destroyer.
H.I Sutton, a prominent submarines and sub-surface systems analyst, also wondered: “Is USN taking design leads from Chinese Type-055 cruiser?”
This observation came after the US Navy on January 12 revealed a concept for its futuristic warship, DDG(X), which would be capable of deploying hypersonic missiles and laser weapons.
The EurAsian Times has previously reported that China is working on two more Type-055 warships while the country’s largest and most modern destroyer, the Lhasa, conducted a series of drills in the Yellow Sea to assess its operational capabilities. Lhasa, the second Type 055 battleship, is said to be combat-ready.
Hate to say it, but is USN taking design leads from #Chinese Type-055 cruiser?
Someone had to… https://t.co/Djpfyc6iKP
— H I Sutton (@CovertShores) January 12, 2022
Social media users, most of whom appear to be Chinese handles, have gone berserk about the American DDG(X). One Twitter handle, Dai Weiwei, posted, “America’s next-generation destroyer DDG(X) directly copies China’s current Type-055 destroyer.
Another netizen alleged, “USNavy reveals early thinking for future destroyer DDG(X). Do you think it looks like a Chinese Type 055 destroyer? This time it is US’s turn to copy Chinese designs.”
— 彩云香江 (@louischeung_hk) January 13, 2022
Next-Gen American Destroyer
The DDG(X) design was unveiled at the Surface Navy Association’s National Seminar in Arlington, Virginia, and was soon after, likened to the Chinese vessel. The US Navy, on the other hand, is yet to make a statement on these allegations.
The new futuristic warship is a concept that has been in the pipeline for quite some time now and couldn’t come to fruition due to a cash crunch.
According to the US Naval Institute (USNI), this is the Navy’s largest and most ambitious design for a surface warship in more than two decades.
The new ship will be outfitted with combat systems adapted from the existing Flight III Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyers, which are equipped with the SPY-6 air search radar and the Baseline 10 Aegis weapons system, according to USNI report, as previously reported by the EurAsian Times.
— Sam LaGrone (@samlagrone) January 12, 2022
The program office is now working with the military sector to refine the fundamental design after completing a draft Capability Development Document. This task will be aided by the shipbuilding industry.
The new ship could be used as the primary escort for carrier and amphibious groups, with the Constellation-class — which is still under development — guided-missile frigates, and littoral warfare ships serving as backup.
According to Defense News, the proposed destroyer will be distinguished by “a new hull design, an efficient Integrated Power System, and better endurance.” The power supply will be crucial in integrating the laser armament that will almost certainly be mounted aboard the DDG (X).
China’s Type 055 Destroyer
The Type 055 Guided Missile Destroyer has been dubbed the world’s most lethal warship by Chinese state media. It is 180 meters long and 20 meters wide.
The warship’s full load displacement is around 13,000 tons while the US Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruiser and Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which are similar to this frigate, have a displacement of roughly 9,800 tons.
Nanchang (101), the first Type-055 ship, was launched in June 2017 and entered service in January 2020. Since then, seven more have been built in Dalian and Shanghai.
In August of 2020, the seventh ship was launched. Lhasa is the second stealth guided-missile destroyer of the Type-055 class which is now combat-ready and undergoing drills in the Yellow Sea.
America's next generation destroyer DDG(X) directly copies China's current Type-055 destroyer. pic.twitter.com/xGmBzi1V89
— Dai Weiwei (@DaiWeiwei10) January 13, 2022
Because of their capability and size, parallels are drawn between the Chinese Type 055 and the American Ticonderoga-class warships.
Upgraded radar systems work in tandem with universal vertical launch systems (VLS), which can carry a wide range of warheads, including missiles for air defense, anti-submarine, and anti-surface warfare.
The Type-055’s VLS has lesser cells than the Ticonderoga Class’s. As compared to Ticonderoga’s 122 VLS, the Type-055 possesses roughly 112 VLS. The weapon load-out, on the other hand, is very different because it must be customized to the user’s specifications.
The HQ-9 long-range surface-to-air missile, as well as the HQ-16 medium-range SAM and potentially a quad-packed DK-10As, are all aboard the Chinese ship.
The DK-10A is based on the PL-12 and would be deployed as an intermediate-range air defense missile similar to the US Navy’s RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile. Similarly, the Chinese Yu-8 anti-submarine missile is comparable to the US Navy’s VL-ASROC.
Some nice stills showing HQ-10 short range SAM, the PLAN-equivalent of RIM-116 RAM, here on a Type 055 DDG.
Via "by78" at SDF. pic.twitter.com/1NMTOCtJxw
— Alex Luck (@AlexLuck9) January 14, 2022
Chinese ships prioritize anti-surface warfare, and they use the YJ-18 supersonic anti-ship missile. The Harpoons of the Ticonderoga Class are dwarfed by these enormous, powerful missiles. The American Harpoons can only be transported in groups of eight, but the Chinese ships are said to be capable of transporting a huge number of YJ-18s.
There is an even wider difference in weapons in the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) arena. The US AEGIS ships can carry the RIM-161 SM-3 missile, which can intercept medium-range ballistic missiles. China does not have such weapon systems. Nevertheless, both the ships have distinct features to serve their respective requirements.
Whether the US actually copied the Chinese Type 055 design or the similarities are overhyped could only be clarified by the American Navy. Until that happens, the Chinese propaganda machinery will make the most of this controversy, given the tense relations between Beijing and Washington.