By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer June 5, 2015
作者：Jeffrey Lin和P.W. Singer 2015年6月5日
A landlocked test rig for the Type 055 Cruiser nears completion
Type 055 Cruiser Mockup
By April 2015, about a year after its public debut, the Type 055 cruiser mockup in Wuhan has a new coat of PLAN gray, as well as installation of the ESM mast. Scaffolding on the farside of the bridge module suggests that progress is being made on installing the Type 346 radar.
The Type 055 cruiser test rig in Wuhan is well on its way to opening for business. Built to test the Type 055's sophisticated electronics and integrated stealth mast, the mockup now has major electronic sensors and systems installed, along with a coat of PLAN gray paint.
Google Earth View
The Type 055 test rig shows signs of completion by January 2015 as seen from Google Earth. It's a rough approximation of the actual cruiser, with enough physical similarity to help training crew for procedures like helicopter landings and layout familiarization.
The Type 055 cruiser test rig made its Internet debut in March 2014 on Chinese websites. With a projected length of 160 to 180 meters, judging from the test rig's 140 to150 meter length (which does not include the entire helicopter landing pad nor bow forward of the turret), and a width of about 21 to 23 meters, it would displace about 12,000 to 14,000 tons. That would make the Type 055 cruiser the largest Asian surface warship since World War II's Japanese Tone class heavy cruisers.
2014年3月055型巡洋舰试验台在互联网中国网站上首次亮相。估计长度160到180米，从试验台140米到150米判断（不包括整个直升机停机坪和前部舰艏炮塔），宽度约21米至23米，它排水量约12000吨至14000吨。这将使055型巡洋舰自二战以来日本 利根（Tone） 级重巡洋舰之后亚洲最大的水面舰艇。
Cruiser and Destroyer
This computer generated image compares the Type 055 cruiser and Type 052D destroyer side by side for scale. The Type 055 will display twice as much as the Type 052D, and probably carry about twice as many (128) large missiles.
The Type 055 cruiser is expected to command Chinese taskforces, act as the center of fleet air defenses against enemy air attacks, escort carrier groups and launch barrages of land attack and anti-ship missiles to project Chinese airpower. Judging from its 12,000 to 14,000 ton displacement, it could carry at least 112 to 128 vertical launch systems (VLS) cells for missiles. With that amount of firepower, the Type 055 cruiser could exceed the 122 VLS cells of the USN's Ticonderoga class Aegis Cruisers.
The Type 055 leaves its ESM mast exposed, in order to increase its ability to hoover up enemy electronic signals and activity. Below it on the integrated mast are three panels on the front side for radars and other transmitters (likely for IFF or electronic warfare systems).
The most obvious addition is the electronics support measures (ESM) mast installed on top of the integrated mast. ESM is the practice of collecting, processing and analyzing electronic activity by the enemy, in order to improve the performance of one's electronics, and to calibrate electronic warfare systems. The ESM mast is mounted at the highest point on the Type 055 cruiser, in order to maximize its line of sight to pick up enemy electronic activity such as radars, communications and jamming.
This fanmade CGI shows a variety of weapons that can be launched from the Type 055's modular VLS, which includes a YJ-18 antiship missile (left), an HQ-9 long range surface to air missile (third from left), and CJ-10 land attack cruise missile (second from right).
Located on top of the bridge superstructure, the integrated mast has three radar arrays. While the specific model of these radars is yet unclear, the radars are likely to be for purposes of fire control for surface to air missiles (SAMs), navigation and identification friend or foe (IFF) transmitter. While only the forward side of the integrated mast has the radar arrays installed, the Type 055 cruiser will have all three radars on each side of the integrated mast.
Type 346 radar
The Type 052D has four large multi-function Type 346 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars under its bridge. The Type 055 cruiser will have four such similar radars, though the Wuhan test rig has only two such radars installed (for financial reasons).
Type 346X radars may have been installed, though the available photos make it difficult to ascertain. The Type 346 family of radars have already been installed on the Type 052D Luyang III destroyers, and are large multipurpose, electronically scanned radars that are comparable to the U.S.'s SPY-1 radars on Aegis warships.
The test rig's helicopter hangar has a landing pad, but since the pad's floor is lower than the floor of the mock up hangar, the test rig does not accurately represent the actual Type 055 cruiser configuration. The Type 055 would carry Z-20 or Z-18 antisubmarine warfare helicopters, as well as UAVs.
The purpose of building such a mockup is to test electronic interaction/interference between the Type 055's multiple radars, communications and other electronic equipment in the real world. Conducting such tests before launching the first Type 055 cruiser allows for modifications to the electronics set up to be more easily changed, as well as on site support from electronics laboratories. However, the test rig is not an accurate representative of actual Type 055 layout (the helicopter hangar in the rear has no door, and no anti-stealth radar has been installed over it, as is the case with the Type 052C and Type 052D destroyers).
When the Type 055 cruiser test rig turns on, the airwaves in Wuhan will get a lot more crowded. Once the Chinese launch the first Type 055 cruiser, the waters in the western Pacific, and around the world, are also going to get pretty crowded too.