LAST UPDATE: June 21, 2012
SPECIFICATIONS PHOTOGRAPHS (Click on the pictures for an enlarged photo)

Designation: DDG
Length: 563 ft (172m)
Beam: 55 ft (17m)
Draft: 20 ft (6m)
Displace (Full Load): 9,800 tons
Propulsion: 4 GE LM2500, Gas Turbines, two shafts
Speed: 33 knots
Range: 6,000 nautical miles (20 knots)
Crew: 363
Helicopter(s): 2 S-70C(N) Seahawks
- AN/SPS-48E, SPS-55, SPQ-9A, SPG-60 Radars
- SQS-53, SLQ-32V(3) Sonars
- 2 X Mk 26 twin-arm launchers (62 SM-2 IIIA missiles)
- 8 X Harpoon SSM (2 x Mark 141 Quad Launchers)
- 2 X 127mm DP Gun
- 2 X Phalanx 20mm CIWS
- 6 X Mk-46 Torpedoes
Ships in class: 4
1801 Kee Lung
1802 Su Ao
1803 Tso Ying
1805 Ma Kong
In the 1970's the United States Navy produced its first gas turbine major surface combatant, the Spruance Class destroyers. Later, the Ticonderogfa class AEGIS cruisers would be built on the same hull.

The Shah of Iran, then an ally to the United States in the Persian Gulf, ordered four heavily modified Spruance class destroyers as multi-role air defense destroyers. Billed as "AEGIS-lite" at the time, the destroyers would have two twin arm Standard Missile launchers housing 62 missiles, but would also be armed with the full compliment of harpoon missiles, ASROC missiles, Phalanx CIWS, torpedoes and helicopters of the normal Spruance class. They were also ordered with air conditioning and strong NBC capabilities. With their strong armament and strong sensor suite, these vessels were the strongest, most heavily armed and well protected destroyers afloat until the advent of the U.S. Navy's Burke class of AEGIS destrtoyers.

When Iran fell to the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, the US had not delivered these strong vessels to the Shah and so the US Navy took possession of them. They then operated in the Persian Gulf and the Mediteranean, and elsewhere for the U.S. Navy to augment surface action groups, as carrier strike force escorts, amphibious group escorts, and as a strong presence wherever US interests required a presence and the flag to be shown in a powerful way. Unofficially, they came to be known as the "Ayatollah" class, and officially as the Kidd Class DDGs.

As the U.S. built more and more AEGIS destroyers and as the AEGIS system became more and more the main stay for all US destroyers, the Kidd class was decommisioned in 1998 and 1999 and put in reserve.

With the strong modernization and growth of the People's Republic of China Navy, the PLAN, and particularly with the purchase by the PRC of four strong former Soviet Sovremenny destroyers, the KIDD class was offered to sale to the Republic of China on Taiwan in 2002 and the purchase made. The ROC wanted AEGIS vessels, but the cost of each AEGIS vessel was close to $1 billion (US) and they would take 8-10 years to deliver all four. All four vessels of the KIDD class were available to the ROC immediately for $750 million (US) for all four ships, and so it was an easy decision to buy these powerful combatants.

In 2003 reactivation of the vessels began, which included full armament and training for the ROCN crews. The first two were delivered to the ROCN in 2004 and commissioned into service in 2005. The second two were delivered in 2005 and commisioned into service in 2006.

These four vessels with their strong anti-air, surface, and sub-surface combat capabilities represent the strongest naval weapons the ROCN possesses, and they are also capable of cooperative, data-linked, command with US AEGIS vessels in any circumstance where that would become necessary. As such, they are helping to maintain the peace in the Taiwan Straits as a deterrent to conflict.

Jeff Head is a member of the US Naval Insitute who has many years experience in the power, defense, and computer industries. He currently works for the federal government helping maintain regional infrastructure. He is the author of a self-published military techno-thriller called, "Dragon's Fury," that projects a fictional third world war arising out of current events. Learn more about that series by clicking on the picture of the novel cover below:

DRAGON'S FURY-World War against America and the West

Copyright © 2005-2012 by Jeff Head


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