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The ship, called the Type 055 but also known as the Nanchang, is a guided-missile destroyer which was commissioned earlier this year. New details of the ship have now been revealed in a video aired by China’s state broadcaster CCTV last week.
The 12,000 ton-displacement ship is also able to defend against stealth aircraft thanks to an advanced dual-band radar system.
Its radar can also detect satellites orbiting at heights of up to 500 kilometres.
This could enable the ship to not only track the satellites’ movements, but also orchestrate missile attacks against them, analysts have said.
The radar technology has prompted discussion between military observers, according to Chinese media.
China had initially hailed the Nanchang as a “leap forward” in its naval technology when it was revealed earlier this year.
According to China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper, the ship is 180 metres long and 20 metres wide.
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It also has 112 vertical missile launch cells which can fire a range of different missiles including anti-ship, land-attack, and anti-submarine weapons.
Regarding the ship’s satellite-tracking capabilities, Wang Ya’nan, a Chinese aviation and space expert, told the paper low-Earth orbit satellites can be used to monitor battlefields in times of conflict.
As such, destroying them would mean cutting off sources of information from other nations.
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Out at sea, the Nanchang will conduct missions alongside larger aircraft carriers as part of battle formations, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have said.
The PLA added the ship will be the largest of its type to join China’s ‘Navy battle sequence’.
It is expected to sail with China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
In 2007, the BBC reported China carried out a ballistic missile test that destroyed an orbiting weather satellite.
At the time, the test was the first one in which a satellite was hit in orbit for over two decades.
The move caused international alarm, including from a Taiwanese politician, though Beijing’s then-Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao claimed China “will never participate in any form of space arms race”.
He also claimed the US had been notified of the test.
In recent weeks, official reports from China also state two other new guided missile destroyers have entered the PLA’s Navy, meaning four have been publicly introduced so far this year.
One, referred to as a Type 052D but speculated to be named the Qiqihar, was shown in a video posted to China’s Weibo social media platform last week.
Another ship, the Tangshan, was also shown in late September in a TV report by PLA-associated video news site js7tv.
It is similar to the Type 052D, with some modifications including a bigger anti-stealth radar.
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