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(Great Power War) The Chinese navy has launched its largest surface combatant warship to date, moving ahead with a fourth-generation destroyer that Beijing says will be used to protect the expanding carrier fleet.

Deemed the Type 055, the Pentagon has actually classified the ship as a cruiser-class vessel; China’s the only country building them currently, though the U.S. Navy has 22 active Ticonderoga-class cruisers in service.

Tribune News Service notes:

China’s navy commissioned its biggest and most advanced surface warship yet, the Nanchang guided-missile destroyer, on Sunday morning in the port city of Qingdao, state media reported.

Observers say the commissioning of China’s first 10,000-ton-class Type 055 destroyer, which is expected to accompany aircraft carriers in battle groups, is a step forward as Beijing seeks to operate farther from its shores and to punch farther into the western Pacific.

Launched in June 2017, its commissioning marks the navy’s leap from the third generation to the fourth generation of destroyers, the navy said in a statement.

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