People's Liberation Army Navy Sovremenny-class Destroyer
People's Liberation Army Navy Sovremenny-class Destroyer

People’s Liberation Army Navy 2nd Sovremenny-class Destroyer Returns After Upgrades

China’s state-run Global Times reported that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Sovremenny-class destroyer Fuzhou has recently returned to active service and joined exercises after undergoing a refit and modernization. Fuzhou featured in a series of drills recently organized by the PLA Eastern Theater Command. This indicates that the Fuzhou has wrapped up its mid-term upgrade and refit and has returned to active service. In addition to the new weapons, Fuzhou also upgraded its electronic systems. This could be seen in the destroyer’s radar, electronic warfare, communications and command, and control systems noting that this will allow the warship to better coordinate with other advanced People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels.

Just like the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s first Sovremenny-class destroyer Hangzhou that finished its refitting in late 2019 and was seen taking part in exercises in March 2021, eight YJ-12 anti-ship missiles replaced the original eight Russian-made Sunburn missiles, a 32-unit vertical launch missile system for the HQ-16 air defense missiles that replaced the original two sets of Shtil air defense missile systems, and the ship’s electronic systems were also comprehensively upgraded. Refitting the Sovremenny-class with China’s domestically developed advanced weapons and equipment significantly enhances the ship’s combat capability, as China’s related technologies nowadays have far surpassed that of Russia’s when the ships were delivered.

The Sovremenny class, Soviet designation Project 956 Sarych (buzzard), is a class of anti-ship and anti-aircraft guided missile destroyers of the Soviet and later Russian Navy. The ships are named after qualities, with “Sovremenny” translating as “modern” or “contemporary”. Most of the ships have been retired from active service and one converted into a museum ship in 2018; as of 2021 two remain in commission with the Russian Navy with several in overhaul. Four modified ships were delivered to the People’s Liberation Army Navy, and remain in service. The Sovremenny class were guided missile destroyers, primarily tasked with anti-ship warfare, while also providing sea and air defense for warships and transports under escort.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Surface Force (PLAN) had two modified Sovremenny-class destroyers delivered in December 1999 and November 2000, designated as Project 956E, with improved electronic gears.[4]In 2002, the PLAN ordered two improved versions designated Project 956EM. The first vessel was launched in late 2005, while the second was launched in 2006. Project cost: 600 million US$ (mid-1990s price) was the price paid for Project 956A (two ships), and 1.4 billion US$ (early-2000s price) for Project 956EM (two ships). All four vessels were commissioned to the East Sea Fleet. From mid-2014, all four Chinese Sovremenny-class destroyers are planned to undergo a midlife upgrade program. As of 2016, Hangzhou was reported to be undergoing refit with its original components replaced with domestic systems.