June 28 (UPI) -- China's People's Liberation Army Navy's first Type 055 guided missile destroyer has reportedly been launched from Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai.
The ship is expected to enter service in 2018 following sea trials and testing. It is the first of four planned initial vessels in the class and would be the most modern destroyer in the PLAN after the Type 052D.
The Type 055 is roughly equal in displacement to the U.S. Navy's Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and is expected to have equivalent mission roles and capabilities.
"The launch of this ship signifies that our nation's development of destroyers has reached a new stage," PLAN said in a statement.
The Type 055 will feature X- and S-band radar for air and missile detection, tracking, and targeting information. Two 64-cell vertical launch systems give the destroyer a mix of 128 medium to long-range surface-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles, and long range land-attack cruise missiles.
It will also mount anti-submarine missiles, sonar systems, a 130mm gun, and two 30mm chaingun close in weapon systems for point defense against missiles, aircraft, and fast attack boats.
Exact types of radars, sonars, missiles, and torpedoes to be mounted on the ship are unknown at this time, but good candidates for its loadout are the YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missile and HHQ-8 long-range surface-to-air missiles.
China has been rapidly expanding and modernizing its Navy, which is now roughly equivalent in size to the U.S. Navy at around 275 ships. Older Type 52 destroyers and Type 54 frigates are also being outfitted with VLS systems and better radars.