New Chinese Cruiser—Not as Big as We Thought
But still pretty big
More photos have appeared online depicting what appears to be a land-based mock-up of a huge new Chinese warship. The fresh images allow for a more reliable assessment of the apparent new cruiser.
We can conclude that the ship is somewhat smaller than we originally thought. But it’s still pretty damned big. If Beijing actually builds the new warship, it could end up being larger than any of the U.S. Navy’s surface combatants.
The photos first appeared on China’s firewalled national Internet in early April. China Defense Blog—a mainline Internet forum for close observers of Beijing’s military developments—circulated the images to the wider world on April 6.
The pics show a warship mock-up at the Wuhan Technical College of Communication, where the Chinese navy sometimes tests the electronics layout of new warships.
Blog contributor “Totoro” analyzed the initial photos and estimated the cruiser would be 614 feet long—longer than even the largest American surface combatant and second in size only to Russia’s single Kirov-class nuclear cruiser.
At 614 feet long, the new cruiser could fit as many as 128 missile cells, giving it the greatest missile armament of any warship in the world.
Totoro took a look at the fresh batch of photos and revised his analysis. The mock-up is probably 603 feet from bow to stern, still nearly 100 feet longer than a U.S. Burke-class destroyer and 36 feet longer than an American Ticonderoga-class cruiser.
If Totoro is right about the vessel’s dimensions, it’s likely it could still pack 128 missile cells, for a total firepower greater than any Burke or Ticonderoga.
As China was repairing and upgrading its former Soviet aircraft carrier Liaoning, it built a mock-up at Wuhan for testing in 2009. “The actual ship entered the fleet in 2012,” China Defense Blog pointed out.
“Using this same timeline,” the blog continued, “we might expect the keel of the new cruiser to be laid in 2015, with a 2017 commission date.”