The Chinese Navy has commissioned its advanced surface warship, Nanchang, in the port city of Qingdao.

Commissioned by People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the Type 055 destroyer Nanchang is China’s first fourth-generation guided-missile destroyer.

The 10,000t destroyer was launched in June 2017 and is expected to accompany aircraft carriers in battle groups.

Rajaratnam School of International Studies Singapore research fellow Collin Koh told The Japan Times that the vessel is ‘by far the most powerful surface combatant’ in China’s Navy.

Nanchang is 180m long and 20m wide and features the latest radar, as well as a vertical-launch system with 112 missile cells that can launch a mix of various missiles, according to media reports.

The destroyer is equipped with new air defence, anti-missile, anti-ship and anti-submarine weapons and is expected to join the fleet, which is led by Qingdao-based aircraft carrier Liaoning.

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Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie was quoted by the Global Times as saying that the Type 055 will serve as an escort to aircraft carriers and is capable of leading a task group without a carrier.

It could also accompany the country’s first domestically produced aircraft carrier Shandong and carry out various missions.

State-run China Central Television reported that Nanchang is the first to enter service this year.

The commissioning of the surface warship is the latest development in President Xi Jinping’s move to turn the country’s military into a leading force and marks PLAN’s leap from the third generation to the fourth generation of destroyers.

China plans to build more Type 055 ships.