The Type 055 large destroyer Zunyi of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy carries out air defense and sea assault exercises in the South China Sea in November 2023. (Photo/Screenshot from China Central Television)
A 10,000 ton-class large destroyer newly commissioned into the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) earlier in 2023 recently carried out a combat-oriented exercise in the South China Sea, displaying its rapid capability generation in defending national sovereignty, security and maritime rights amid tensions in the region, analysts said on Wednesday.
The destroyer Zunyi recently conducted a series of realistic air defense, anti-missile and sea assault combat drills in an undisclosed area in the South China Sea, and effectively verified the ship's solo combat capabilities in the far seas, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Tuesday.
During the exercise, the Zunyi's early warning and detection systems found multiple suspected aerial targets, which the warship successfully intercepted by taking an advantageous position, releasing jamming rounds and firing its close-in weapon system.
In a following training session, a hostile vessel target approached the Zunyi, which responded with a fast counterattack, heavily damaging the target with its main gun.
In the drills that lasted for several days, the Zunyi was tasked to deal with complicated maritime and air emergencies and intensive training sessions. The warship completed more than a dozen training courses, including coordination with small boats, vessel-helicopter integrated search and rescue and light arms firing, CCTV reported.
The priority of this exercise was to understand the new equipment's capabilities in-depth and accelerate its actual application in systematic joint combat, CCTV quoted Zhang Shuliang, a member of an undisclosed detachment under the navy of the PLA Southern Theater Command, as saying.
"Through comprehensive training and verifying in complicated maritime and air conditions, we have explored and optimized tactics and training methods," Zhang said.
Commissioned in April, the Zunyi is the seventh Type 055 large destroyer of the PLA Navy, according to publicly available information.
After more than half a year's training, the Zunyi is almost ready for combat, analysts said.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the Zunyi is forming combat capabilities very fast thanks to experience shared by previous Type 055 destroyers.
The Type 055 is a technically mature warship, and the Zunyi is forming systematic combat capabilities, operating solo or in a task group, Song said.
The exercise by the 10,000 ton-class large destroyer in the South China Sea came at a time when the Philippines has been stirring up trouble in the region since August, making repeated provocations toward Chinese islands and reefs in the region.
While the drills are not targeted at any party, a mighty navy operating powerful warships like the Type 055 is a stabilizer to regional peace, observers said.
China is a peace-loving country, but it must have the strength to safeguard peace, Song said, noting that the Type 055 is a part of that strength.
With the Type 055, the PLA has more confidence and capabilities in defending national sovereignty, security and development interests, Song said.