Chinese Navy Type 051B destroyer modernized with HHQ-16 air-defence missiles

After returning from a major refit, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy Type 051B Luhai-class destroyer Shenzhen showcased its air defense firepower by displaying its new missile vertical launch system on Monday, November 25, 2019.

Chinese Navy Type 051B destroyer modernized with HHQ 16 air defence missiles 925 001 The People's Liberation Army Navy Type 051B destroyer Shenzhen showcases the opening of its 32-unit missile vertical launch system. (Photo: screenshot from China Central Television.)

The Navy's sole Type 051B destroyer has gained very powerful combat capability after the modernization, said Weihutang, a column on military affairs affiliated with China Central Television (CCTV) on Monday.

The Shenzhen is now equipped with a vertical launch system, which consists of four sets of eight units, allowing it to host 32 ship-to-air missiles that can shoot down incoming hostile aircraft and missiles, Tong Zhenrong, deputy captain of the Shenzhen, said on CCTV on Sunday.

The Type 051B Luhai-class is a class of destroyer built by the People's Republic of China. As part of the modernisation refit, the original HHQ-7 SAM launcher on the bow deck of the Shenzhen was replaced by a 32-cell VLS for the HHQ-16 air-defence missile. The HHQ-16 is the naval variant of the land-based HQ-16 surface-to-air missile, jointly developed with Russia based on the 9M38 series of missiles.

For short-range air defence, there are two Chinese-made Type 730 close-in weapon systems (CIWS) installed at the mid-ship position on either side of the bridge. Each CIWS consists of the H/PJ-12 7×30 mm gun, H/LJP-349 fire-control radar, Type 4 electro-optical director (EOD), all incorporated in a single turret complex. 

Shenzhen was originally armed with the YJ-83 subsonic sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM). As part of the modernization refit, these appear to have been replaced by the new ramjet-powered supersonic YJ-12 ASCM, with four 2-cell launchers installed at midship. The YJ-12, also known as CM-302 in its export name, employs a ramjet engine to cruise at supersonic speed Mach 2—3 to a maximum range of 280—400 km. The missile utilizes an inertial guidance system coupled with Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) input.

The main gun on the bow deck is an indigenous H/PJ-33B (Type 79B) dual-100 mm gun, which can be used against surface targets as well as slow-flying air targets. The gun can fire 31.5 kg rounds at a rate of 25—30 rounds/min to a maximum range of 22.5 km and a maximum altitude of 15,000 m. The gun is operated either semi-automatically or manually.

Joining military service as a fleet flagship in 1998, the Shenzhen participated in many operations and visited many countries, making it a star in naval diplomacy, China Youth Daily reported, noting that the warship undertook the refit in 2017 that saw its capabilities significantly upgraded, allowing it to become a guided-missile destroyer with the capability to command a joint operation fleet.