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People's Liberation Army Navy

Luhu-class Multirole Destroyer

The Luhu-class missile destroyers are the most sophisticated Chinese-built surface combatants in the PLA Navy, but are still obsolete by Western standards. The first truely multi-role Chinese ships, they were designed by the China Warship Design Institute (formerly known as the Seventh Academy of the Ministry of National Defense). They were built at the Jiangnan Shipyard, which had previously built ten other types of warships, including its first gunboat, first submarine, first frigate, and first marine survey ship. The Luhu-class are armed with C-802 ship-to ship missiles, along with "Sea Rattlesnake" air defense missiles and one helicopter.

Compared to the old Luda class DDG, this class represents a significant step forward in terms of weapon and electronic systems. The Luhu destroyer is the first Chinese naval system of indigenous design even approaching modern standards. But the decision to buy Sovremenny-class destroyers from Russia to accomplish the same functions is indicative of the problems confronting Chinese weapons designers. The Luhu-class air-defence systems lack a fleet defence capability beyond visual range.

The first of the new class was ordered in 1985, but delayed by priority being given to export orders for Thailand. Although these ships were intended to accomodate the American LM2500 gas turbine engines, the Chinese naval architects responsible for designing the Luhu's hull and engine space seem to have disregarded the engines' size specifications. The hull had to be returned to the shipyard for redesign after at least one ship had already been built.

These ships make use of over 40 advanced foreign technologies, providing the Chinese military with an opportunity to cooperate with foreign manufacturers on an extensive scale. Since most of the equipment on board is imported, the crew has to study English to learn over 1,000 English words so they can operate the imported equipment. Among the western equipments on the LuHu class is the Thomson-CSF TAVITAC combat data system, the Thomson-CSF TSR 3004 Sea Tiger Air/Surface search radars, and French-made guns, obtained before the Tiananmen incident (in 1989) when Western countries were still helping China with its military modernization programs. While the first two units are equipped with two US-made GE LM2500 gas turbine engines, the third Type 052 warship and follow-up vessels will use the Ukrainian GT25000M gas turbine as their main engine.

Historically the biggest weakness of Chinese destroyers and frigates has been their inadequate of ship-to-air missiles. Because they have small displacements, most of the destroyers and frigates are not equipped with short-range and intermediate-range missiles, but use artillery with a limited firing range, one-man air defense missiles, and a small number of PL-8H short-range ship-to-air missiles for air defense. The weakness in air defense capabilities has confined the activity of China's destroyers and frigates to the Chinese coastal waters, within the area covered by the fighters of the Chinese Navy. The new Luhu class destroyers and Jiangwei class frigates are equipped with relatively advanced ship-to-air missiles, such as HQ-61B's with a firing range of 10 km and Sea Sidewinders with a firing range of 14 km, giving the Chinese Navy full capabilities of air defense in distant seas.

The weakness of this type destroyer is its poor electronic surveillance system, which renders it vulnerable to being located and attacked. Reportedly China has introduced improved electronics systems, including technology acquired from the US and France, leading to the introduction of an improved and enlarged version of the Luhu as the Luhai-class of guided missile destroyers, which are apparently intended to have enhanced air defense capabilities. The introduction of Luhai-class suggests that the 052 Luhu building project may have been terminated.

The Harbin is the first Luhu-class 052 missile- destroyer of the Chinese Navy. The Harbin (DD 112) and two other Chinese ships visited San Diego CA on 21 March 1997 in the first-ever visit by People's Republic of China Navy ships to the mainland US. The ships visited Hawaii on their way to Southern California for the second part of a goodwill visit between the US and Chinese navies.

Specifications

Builder Jiangnan Shipyard
Propulsion 2 GE LM 2500 gas-turbines
Length 467.8 feet / 142.6 meter
Beam 49.5 feet / 15.3 meters
Draft 16.7 feet / 5 meters
Displacement 5,700 tons full load
4,200 tons standard
Endurance 5,000 miles
Speed 30-31 knots ( mph)
Crew 230
Armament
  • 8 C-802 SSM
  • 1 8-cell HQ-7 SAM
  • 1 dual 100mm/56cal gun
  • 4 dual 37 mm AA guns
  • 2 triple 12.75 inch ASW torpedo tubes
  • Construction 112 Harbin
    113 Qindao

    First of the classed started sea trial in late 1992 with the second in mid-1995.
    The third and subsequent units delayed/cancelled because of problems obtaining more LM2500 gas-turbines and other key Western systems.
    Additional construction evidently not anticipated, in favor of the more capable Luhai-class.

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