Seventeen Type 051 (NATO designation: Luda class) missile destroyers were built between 1970 and 1991 for the PLA Navy. The class was China’s first independently developed destroyer. Some hulls received modernisation upgrade with new weapon systems and sensors in the 1990s. Decommission of the Type 051 began in late 2007, with the last hull expected to be decommissioned by 2022.
In the mid-1960s, the PLA Navy sought a new class of destroyer which would serve as a multipurpose platform for a range of roles, including sizing sea control in offshore waters to eliminate the threat of enemy anti-submarine forces to PLA Navy submarines; obtaining sea dominance against the ROC Navy in the Taiwan Strait; protecting China’s interests in the South China Sea; and escorting survey ships to the target zone in the South Pacific for the full-range missile test of the DF-5 (CSS-4) ICBM.
At 3,000 t displacement, Type 051 was substantially larger than earlier surface combatant operated by the PLA Navy and had almost twice the displacement of the Soviet-made 1,600-t displacement Type 07 (Anshan class) destroyers. The vessel was powered by four boilers and two steam turbines, giving a maximum speed of 32 knots. It was equipped with a wide range of weapons and sensors for air defence, surface strike, and anti-submarine roles. Type 051 was also the first Chinese-built surface vessel capable of receiving underway replenishment, which enabled it to operate continuously at sea without having to return to its base.
The design of Type 051 was carried out by 701 Institute based in Wuhan, Hubei Province. The design was officially approved in June 1967, and the first hull DDG-223 (later DDG-105 Jinan) began construction at the Dalian Shipyard in 1968. The vessel was launched in July 1970 and commissioned by the PLA Navy in December 1971. The first test fire of the HY-1 anti-ship missile from the destroyer was carried out in September 1973, while the design team was still working on finalising the destroyer design.
In 1975, Type 051 was certified for design finalisation. By then, construction of the destroyer was carried out at three locations simultaneously: Dalian Shipyard, Zhonghua Shipyard (Shanghai), and Guangzhou Shipyard. Later hulls were added with improved sensors. The last two hulls constructed in the late 1980s, DDG-165 Zhanjiang and DDG-166 Zhuhai, featured a C3I system consisting of combat information centre, long-range 3D air/sea-search radar, and ECM suite. Some hulls received modernisation overhaul, added with the YJ-8 AShM, HQ-7 SAM, Type 76A dual 37-mm AAA, Type 363 (TSR3004 Sea Tiger) air-surface search radar, 324-mm ASW torpedo launchers, etc. DDG-105 Jinan was also added with a hanger and flight deck to support a Harbin Z-9 ASW/SAR helicopter.
Despite its improvement over precious Chinese surface combatants in size, weapons, and sensors, Type 051 was often criticized as being deficient in overall combat capability and unsuitable for long-endurance sea operations. The destroyer only had limited air defence against a very narrow range of air threats, making it highly vulnerable in modern sea warfare. Partially based on the 1950s-era Soviet Kotlin class destroyer, Type 051 had very limited redundancy to damage in its hull design and extremely poor living condition onboard. Additionally, the destroyer’s radar and communication systems were very dated and there was no NBC protection. Some of these weaknesses have been addressed during the modernisation refit programmes.
Nevertheless, through the Type 051 programme, the Chinese shipbuilding industry obtained valuable knowledge and experience in designing and building a large surface combatant independently, and was able to apply these know-hows to design and build larger, more advanced destroyers later.
The Type 051 destroyers have been constructed in three batches and can be identified in seven variants:
- Mod 1 (Type 051 Luda class) – First batch of seven hulls built between 1968 and 1975, including DDG-105 Jinan, DDG-160 Guangzhou, DDG-106 Xi’an, DDG-161 Changsha, DDG-107 Yinchuan, DDG-162 Nanning, and DDG-131 Nanjing.
- Mod 1A (Type 051 Luda-II class) – In 1987, DDG-105 Jinan received modification to be added with a helicopter hanger and flight deck. The ship was identified by NATO as Luda-II class.
- Mod 2 (Type 051 ‘Dingxing’ Luda class) – Second batch of eight hulls built between 1977 and 1990, with slightly different radar configuration to the previous batch. They include DDG-108 Xining, DDG-132 Hefei, DDG-109 Kaifeng, DDG-163 Nanchang, DDG-110 Dalian, DDG-133 Chongqing, DDG-134 Zunyi, and DDG-164 Guilin.
- Mod 2A (Type 051 ‘Zhihui’ Luda class) – Among the second batch, DDG-110 Dalian and DDG-132 Hefei were specially configured to serve as fleet air defence command posts, equipped with the long-range air surveillance radar.
- Mod 2B (Type 051 Luda class) – In 1991, DDG-109 Kaifeng was added with a French Crotale SAM launcher and Castor-II radar.
- Mod 3 (Type 051G Luda-III class) – The third batch, designated Type 051G, began construction in the late 1980s. DDG-165 Zhanjiang featured improved radar and C3I system. DDG-166 Zhuhai had further improvements in weapon and was identified by NATO as the Luda-III class.
- Mod 4 (Type 051 Luda class) – In 1999, DDG-109 Kaifeng received its second modernisation refit. In 2002, DDG-110 Dalian received similar refit, followed by DDG-165 Zhanjiang and DDG-166 Zhuhai in 2003. The latter two also featured improved radar.
Type 051 employed the Type 76 dual-barrel 130 mm/58-calibre gun and the Haiying-1J (HJ-1J, NATO reporting name: CSS-N-1 ‘Silkworm’) anti-ship missile. Each of the two Type 76 guns (one front, one rear) fires 33.4 kg shells at a rate of 17 rounds/minute to a range of 29 km against surface targets. They can also be used for air defence and shore bombardment. Six HY-1J liquid-propellant missiles are housed in two rotatable 3-cell launchers installed in the mid-ship position. The missile uses active radar homing to a maximum range of 70 km, flying at subsonic speed (Mach 0.95). The warhead is 513 kg.
The Luda-III class (DDG-166 Zhuhai) was equipped with eight solid-propellant, 40 km-range YJ-8 (C-801, NATO reporting name: CSS-N-4 ‘Sardine’) anti-ship missiles. These were subsequently replaced by sixteen improved YJ-83 (NATO reporting name: CSS-N-8 ‘Saccade’) anti-ship missiles during modernisation refit.
The fire-control for the main guns and AShM was provided by the Type 343G (NATO reporting name: ‘Wasp Head’ and ‘Wok Won’) radar located on top of the bridge.
The strike weapon package for the Mod 4 variant includes the PJ33A dual-barrel 100-mm/56-calibre guns and the YJ-83 anti-ship missiles. The PJ33A gun was developed from the Type 79A dual-barrel 100-mm gun, but has a redesigned gun house with strong radar cross-section reduction features. Sixteen box-shape YJ-83 missile launchers are organised into four groups, each with four launchers. The YJ-83 employs active radar homing and a turbojet powerplant (with a solid rocket booster). The missile has a reported range of 120 km and approaches the target in sea skimming mode at a speed of Mach 0.9. The 165 kg shaped charge warhead has time delayed impact proximity fuses.
On DDG-165 Zhanjiang and DDG-166 Zhuhai, the Type 343G radar was replaced by a more advanced Type 344 radar to provide targeting information for the dual 100-mm main guns and YJ-83 AShM.
Early variants Type 051 relies purely on AAA guns to provide limited air defence. Each destroyer has four Type 76 dual-37mm manual/automatic AAA guns and four Type 61 dual 25-mm manual AAA guns. On DDG-166 Zhuhai, the four Type 76 guns were replaced by four improved Type 76A guns (fully automatic with concealed turret) and the 25-mm AAA guns were all removed. The Type 76A guns were directed by two Type 347G fire-control radars (one front, one rear).
The PLA Navy obtained some examples of the French Crotale short-range air-defence missile system in the 1980s and installed one system on No.109 (Kaifeng) for trial and evaluation (Mod 2B). The system includes an 8-cell missile launcher and a Thompson-CSF Castor CTM fire-control radar. Later the missile system was produced in China as the HQ-7. The rear dual 37-mm AAA gun on the stern deck of the Type 051 has to be removed in order to provide space for the SAM system. The missile can only be reloaded manually as there is no enough space for the bulky automatic reloader.
The air defence package for the Mod 4 variant included an HQ-7 SAM system and three Type 76A dual 37-mm automatic AAA guns. The 8-cell HQ-7 SAM launcher and the Type 345 (Castor copy) radar are installed on the stern deck, in front of the rear main gun. One Type 76A automatic AAA gun is installed on the bow deck in front of the bridge, and two are installed at the mid-ship position. They are directed by a single Type 347G radar on top of the bridge. DDG-109 Kaifeng also retained two Type 61 dual 25-mm manual AAA guns.
The Mod 1/1A/2 variants have a Type 354 (NATO reporting name: ‘Eye Shield’) radar mounted on top of the main mast for air and surface search. The radar has a maximum detection range of 100km against aircraft-sized airborne targets. Long-range 2D air surveillance and early warning is provided by a Type 515 (NATO reporting name: ‘Bean Sticks’ or ‘Pea Sticks’) or Type 517 (NATO reporting name: ‘Knife Rest’) radar located behind the rear mast.
The Mod 2B/3 variants were fitted with a Type 381A (NATO reporting name: ‘Rice Screen’) long-range 3D air surveillance radar mounted on the rear mast and a combat information centre (CIC), which enable the destroyers to provide air defence intelligence for a whole task force. These hulls served as the flagships of the flotillas in which they were deployed. Following the modernisation upgrade to Mod 4 standard, the Type 381A radar on these hulls has been removed and replaced by a Type 362 (copy of the Thompson-CSF TSR-3004 Sea Tiger).
All hulls were fitted with two Type 75 (FQF-2500) twelve-barrel 240-mm antisubmarine rocket launchers on the bow deck. The rocket is armed with a 34-kg warhead and has a maximum range of 1,200 m. The destroyer also carried four BMB projectors and four racks for depth charges at the stern. Alternatively, the destroyer could carry 38 mines.
The destroyer was fitted with an SJD-II medium-frequency bow-mounted sonar for long-range search, and an SJD-IV medium-frequency hull-mounted sonar for active search and attack. No.166 (Zhuhai) also has a DUBV-43 (ESS-1) towed medium-frequency variable depth sonar (VDS) for active attack.
The Mod 3/4 variants were fitted with two Alenia B515S (or its Chinese copy) triple-324mm torpedo launchers, which is used to launch the Yu-7 (copy of the U.S. Mk46 Mod1) anti-submarine torpedo. The Yu-7 carried a 45-kg warhead to engage underwater target at a speed of 43 knots, and has a maximum range of 7.3 km.
Navigation and ECM
The Type 051 employed the Recal Decca series navigation radar co-produced locally under license. These include the Decca 707 (“Fin Curve”) and the more advanced Decca RM-1290.
Mod 1/1A/2/2A/2B are equipped with the ‘High Pole’ IFF and the RW-23-1 (NATO reporting name: ‘Jug Pair’) radar warning receivers. DDG-166 Zhuhai was fitted with a Type 825 electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite consisting of interceptors and jammers, but it was removed during the modernisation refit.
The Mod 4 variant was equipped with two Type 946 15-barrelled chaff/decoy launchers.
Command & Control
The Mod 1/1A/2 variants lacked the integrated command and control system. Radio and telephone were provided for intra-ship, inter-ship, and ship-to-land communications. The Mod 2A variant was added with a combat information centre for fleet air defence. The Mod 4 variant was added with a ZJK-4 combat data system developed from the French TAVITAC. Later hulls were all equipped with satellite navigations, satellite communications (SATCOM), and No.11 datalink.
DDG-105 Jinan/Mod 1A variant received a refit in 1987, with its rear 130-mm gun and AAA gun removed to give space to a 17 m X 10.5 m X 5.5 m helicopter hanger and a 25 m x 12.8 m flight deck. The vessel was also added with helicopter landing assistance/handling system and aviation fuel storage to support two Harbin Z-9 helicopters.
The propulsion system of Type 051 destroyer is steam turbines with 4 boilers and 2 turbines rated at 72,000 hp (53 MW), and 2 shafts, giving a max speed of 32 knots.
Displacement:......3,250 t (standard); 3,670 t (full load) Length:............132 m Beam:..............12.8 m Draft:.............4.6 m Speed..............32 knots Range:.............2,970 miles at 18 kt Crew:..............280 (up to 300 maximum, 45 officers)
|Jinan||105||Dalian||North||30 Jul 1970||31 Dec 1971||Nov 2007|
|Xi’an||106||Dalian||North||Sep 1970||26 Nov 1974||29 Sep 2007|
|Yinchuan||107||Dalian||North||May 1972||28 Jun 1976||18 Oct 2012|
|Xining||108||Dalian||North||16 Oct 1978||29 Feb 1980||25 Sep 2013|
|Kaifeng||109||Dalian||North||3 Nov 1979||25 Dec 1982||8 Sep 2016|
|Dalian||110||Zhonghua||North||20 Aug 1981||26 Dec 1984||–|
|Nanjing||131||Zhonghua||East||11 Dec 1973||6 Jan 1977||26 Sep 2012|
|Hefei||132||Zhonghua||East||Nov 1978||Mar 1980||20 Oct 2012|
|Chongqing||133||Zhonghua||East||31 Oct 1980||30 Dec 1983||26 Sep 2014|
|25 Nov 1983||28 Dec 1984||–|
|Guangzhou||160||Guangzhou||South||6 Jan 1977||–||9 Mar 1978|
|Changsha||161||Guangzhou||South||28 Jun 1973||31 Dec 1975||28 Aug 2008|
|Naning||162||Guangzhou||South||27 Oct 1976||23 Mar 1979||Sep 2012|
|22 Dec 1979||15 Nov 1982||8 Sep 2016|
|20 Jun 1984||10 July 1987||–|
|Zhanjiang||165||Dalian||South||1 Aug 1988||30 Dec 1989||–|
|Zhuhai||166||Dalian||South||18 Oct 1990||21 Nov 1991||–|