CNS Hefei (174) guided-missile destroyer is one of about twelve vessels related to the Type 052D destroyer class of the modern People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN, the Chinese Navy). The destroyers are of an all-modern standard, centered around a displacement of about 7,500 tons under full load, carrying missile-heavy armament, and capable of speeds as fast as 30 knots. Hefei (174) is the third named ship-of-the-class and was commissioned into service with the PLAN on December 12th, 2015. She is currently under active status with the South China Fleet.
The vessel is conventional as modern warships go: the forecastle is largely unobstructed save for a single turreted main gun emplacement, vertical missile launching bay, and raised bow superstructure. Integrated to the bridge section is the enclosed main mast and, aft of this, is a sharp drop leading to the low-profile, enclosed smoke funnels. A secondary mast is set aft of midships with the aft-superstructure seated thereafter. The stern is dominated by the single-helicopter helipad. The warship can service helicopters from its built-in hangar facility and launch/retrieve such types from the helipad. These units are typically outfitted for the submarine or ship-hunting role and aid the vessel as an "eye-in-the-sky" for Over-the-Horizon (OtH) work. Additionally, the helipad is useful in receiving at-sea replenishment by air.
Dimensions include a running length of 515 feet with a beam measuring 56 feet and a draught down to 20 feet.
Armament includes a single 30mm turreted main gun system over the bow but the warship's primary weapon is a 64-cell Vertical Launch System (VLS) able to house Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM), Anti-Ship Missile (ASM), and Surface-to-Surface Missile (SSM) type weapons. This includes cruise missiles for inland attacks from the sea. The cells are divided into fore and aft bays with each housing 32 missiles. A digital Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) is fitted as standard for short-ranged defense against low-flying aerial threats. All told, the vessel can serve in the airspace deterrent role, engage other warships, hunt submarines, or attack land-based targets as needed - making her a true multi-mission platform.
It is believed that the ship carries a battle system comparable to the vaunted American "AEGIS" system - capable of handling multiple threats simultaneously by way of powerful computer processing systems and radar technology. The radar fit is the Type 346A/Type 518 L-band system (Active, Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA)). A towed sonar array and variable depth sonar are both carried for sub-hunting. A protected data link allows for information sharing with other Chinese military units in real time.
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