The most porweful modern
navies operate destroyers. These are the heaviest surface combatants
in general use today. These ships are not numerous. Only the
powerful navies around the world operate these warships.
So which is the most
powerful destroyer in the world? Which is the greatest modern
destroyer and why? Our Top 10 analysis is based on the combined
score of firepower, offensive and defensive capabilities, size,
displacement, sensors, stealthiness and some other features.
only includes destroyers that are currently in service, or will be
commissioned in the near future.
Currently top 10
destroyers in the world are these:
Zumwalt class (USA)
The Zumwalt class destroyers are the new cutting-edge warships for
the US Navy. The lead ship, USS Zumwalt, was commissioned
with the US Navy in 2016. It is
named in honor of Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. Originally 32 ships of
the class were planned. However only three ships will be built due
to high unit price.
class warships are the largest destroyer ever built. Actually
in terms of size, displacement and armament these are closer to
cruisers rather than destroyers. The Zumwalt class ships are even
Ticonderoga class cruisers. These new
vessels sport cutting-edge technology and are stealthy to radars.
Also these warships have new propulsion and powerful armament.
These stealthy guided missile destroyers can perform anti-aircraft
and naval fire support, however the main focus is on land attack.
Zumwalt has unusual hull design optimized for wave piercing. There
is a composite deckhouse. Angular shape minimizes its radar
signature. The ship has hidden radar and sensors. The despite its
size the USS Zumwalt has a radar signature of a fishing boat. Also
it has reduced sound and infrared signature what makes this ship
harder to detect.
warships will be fitted with 80 advanced modular vertical launch
cells for various missiles. The USS Zumwalt can carry a mix of
various missiles, including
Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles (1 per cell), ASROC
anti-submarine rockets (1 per cell), RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow
Missiles (ESSM) (4 per cell) and Standard surface-to-air missiles.
Also there are two 155-mm naval guns with 920 rounds of ammunition
and two 57-mm guns.
stealthy destroyer has the highest level of automation of any US
Navy surface warship. It will be operated by less sailors than
comparable ships. The USS Zumwalt will be run by a crew of about 140
sailors. It is half the crew of comparable
Arleigh Burke class destroyer. Automated systems will put out
fires and combat flooding. Surveillance cameras will monitor what is
The ship has
a flight deck and a hangar for up to two medium-lift helicopters
MH-60R Seahawks. It can also carry up to three MQ-8 Fire Scout
or other small UAVs.
Zumwalt is the first US surface warship to use electric propulsion.
Its integrated power system can send electricity to the electric
drive motors or weapons. Its powerplant produces enough electricity
to power future weapons like the electromagnetic gun or laser. It
generates enough power to light up a small city. Sound levels of the
Zumwalt are comparable with
Los Angeles class submarines.
Sejong the Great class (South Korea)
the Great class destroyers are among the most advanced warships
afloat today. They were developed under the KDX-III program, which
sought to provide the South Korean Navy with a world-class destroyer
capable of meeting virtually any threat at sea, on land, or in the
of these vessels borrows heavily from features of the American
Arleigh Burke class and the Japanese Atago class, and shares
numerous common components and systems as well, but has a largely
original construction and composition. Moreover, with a combat
displacement of some 11 000 tons (practically making these vessels
Cruisers), the Sejong the Great class destroyers are substantially
Navy operates three of these vessels. They were commissioned in
2008, 2012, and 2014.
to the use of only fully-developed technologies and subsystems, the
Sejong the Great class destroyers cost only $923 million per-vessel.
This price tag makes these vessels among the most inexpensive AEGIS
warships ever constructed.
sensors, fire controls, propulsion, and other systems are
fully-automated, and networked together via the Aegis combat
information system; the version currently used in the Sejong the
Great class is Baseline 7 Phase 1. This system allows the ship to
detect, identify, evaluate, and engage targets with no input from
the crew, other than the decision to engage. The system can also
display several-thousand contacts, and track and/or engage up to 100
battery of the Sejong the Great class is exceptional. Not even
including the 21-cell RAM launcher, or even the 16 Hyunmoo III
anti-ship missiles, they carry an incredible 128 missiles in three
different vertical launch cell pads (one forward with 48 cells, one
aft with 32 cells, and another 48-cell pad aft). This is a much
larger stock of missiles than the 96 cells found on the
Arleigh Burke class, furthermore it is second-place to the
class battlecruisers (which have the world's largest missile
battery, at 352 missiles).
of missiles carried by the Sejong the Great class is staggering as
well. These include the RIM-66M-5/SM-2ER Block IV Standard SSM-700K
Haeseong with a range of 240 km, the Hyunmoo IIIB land attack cruise
missile with a range of 1 000 km, the SSM-700K Haeseong anti-ship
missile with a range of 150 km, the Red Shark (also called the K-ASROC)
anti-submarine missile with a 18.5 km range, and the RIM-116B RAM
surface to air missile with a range of 7.4 km. The K745 Blue Shark
torpedo has an effective range of 18.5 km.
two hangars for helicopters.
Arleigh Burke class (USA)
The Arleigh Burke class
warships are the biggest destroyers currently in service with the US
Navy. Also these are one of the biggest destroyers in the world that
incorporate highly advanced weaponry and systems.
missile destroyers entered service with the US Navy in 1991 were the first large
US Navy vessel designed to incorporate stealth shaping techniques to
reduce radar cross-section. Also these were the first
destroyers fitted with Aegis combat system. These destroyers were
intended to be a cheaper, less capable vessels than the
Ticonderoga class cruisers. Originally tasked with defending
against Soviet aircraft, missiles and submarines, these potent
general purpose destroyer are now used in high-threat areas to
conduct anti-air, anti-submarine, anti-surface, and land attack
Hull profile of the Arleight Burke class significantly improves seakeeping, permitting
high speeds to be maintained in difficult sea states. The hull form
is characterized by considerable flare and a 'V'-shape
appearance at the waterline.
Built primarily from steel, the class has aluminium masts to reduce
topweight. Kevlar armour is fitted over all vital machinery and
operations room spaces. Surprisingly, it was the first US warship
class to be fully equipped to operate in NBC environments, with the
crew confined to a protected citadel located within the hull and
The AN/SPY-1D phased array radar incorporates significant advances
in the detection capabilities of the AEGIS weapons system,
particularly in its resistance to enemy electronic countermeasures.
The AEGIS system is designed to counter all current and projected
missile threats to the Navy's battle forces. A conventional,
mechanically rotating radar 'sees' a target when the radar beam
strikes that target once during each 360°
rotation of the antenna. A separate tracking radar is then required
to engage each target.
By contrast, the AEGIS system brings these functions together within
one system. The four fixed arrays of the SPY-1D send out beams of
electromagnetic energy in all directions simultaneously,
continuously providing a search and tracking capability for hundreds
of targets at the same time. The SPY-1D and the Mark 99 fire control
system allow them to guide vertically-launched Standard missiles to
intercept hostile aircraft and missiles at long ranges. Missile are
stored in vertical launch systems, that can also house smaler
Evolved Sea Sparrow (ESSM) missiles,
Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles, ASROC anti-submarine
missiles. For point defense the ships are equipped with two Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems
Also there are 324 mm launchers for Mk.46 or Mk.50 torpedoes.
class currently consists of 62 destroyers in three versions, namely
Flight I, Flight II, and Flight IIA.
The laters Flight IIA
vessels are sometimes referred as the Oscar Austin class.
These have a helicopter hangar
for two helicopters, as
well as an enlarged vertical launch system, a new 127 mm
and are packed with modern sensors and weaponry.
These warship have a full load displacement of 9 648
tons and are significantly larger than original Flight I ships, that
were commissioned in the early 1990s. Construction of further
improved Flight III variant is planned for 2016.
Type 052D class (China)
The Type 052D class is
referred as Chinese Aegis. It is known in the West as Luyang III
class. It is a follow-on to the previous Type 052C (Luyang II)
class. A total of 12 Type 052D destroyers are being built at a rapid
pace for the Chinese Navy by two different shipyards. The first
vessel entered service in 2014.
052D class is among the World's biggest and most capable destroyers.
It follows the lines of the previous Type 052C class, but is larger
and has reduced radar cross-section. Also the new warships have
improved weaponry and pack a heavier punch. These guided missile
destroyers are equipped with advanced radar and two 32-cell Vertical
Launch Systems (VLS) for various missiles. Still though these are
general-purpose destroyers, rather than specializes anti-air warfare
vessels. It seems that these warships have capabilities similar to
those of the US
Arleigh Burke class general-purpose destroyers.
like the phased array radar of the Type 052D is a further
development of the Type 052C radar. The new radar is larger and
presumably has more transceivers. This radar was first observed in
2012 on a Bi Sheng weaponry trial ship. In function it is similar to
the US SPY-1 Aegis radar.
It can detect air targets at significant ranges and track numerous
targets simultaneously. Some sources report that the Type 052D class
warships are also fitted with a newest Chinese data link. This
secure tactical data system is used for communication with other
32-cell VLS can hold and launch different types of missiles. These
include surface-to-air missiles, cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles
and anti-submarine missiles. The Type 052D class has superior
offensive capabilities. In these terms it even outperforms many
defense is provided by a
HHQ-10 launcher, packed
with short-range air defense missiles.
defense is provided by a seven-barreled 30 mm CIWS. It seems that starting with the 9th hull destroyers will be
fitted with improved eleven-barreled 30 mm CIWS. It can fire at a
rare of a whooping 10 000 rounds per minute. It is claimed that it
can intercept incoming anti-ship missiles up to a speed of Mach 4
with a 96% success rate. So far these eleven-barreled CIWS were
fitted on Chinese
aircraft carrier and latest
Type 054A class frigates.
Chinese destroyers have a single 130 mm main gun.
anti-submarine warfare there are torpedo tubes and anti-submarine
052D class warships have a hangar for a single helicopter. These
destroyers can accommodate a Kamov Ka-28 (export version of the
Ka-27) or Harbin Z-9C. However most other warships of similar
size and displacement typically can accommodate two helicopters.
Kolkata class (India)
the Indian Kolkata class destroyers might not be as advanced as
contemporary Western or even Chinese warships, these pack a very
Project 15A was launched in 1986, following the
approval of the cabinet committee as a follow-on class to Delhi
class. As with most Indian military projects, development and
construction of these warships was plagued with setbacks, delays and
cost overruns. By the year 2000, the Kolkata class was redesigned by
Directorate of Naval Design including the modern stealth
attributes. These destroyers have reduced radar cross section,
although these are by no means true stealthy vessels. The lead
vessel was delayed by 4 years (to 2014) due to technical faults
found out during the sea trials. However, the faults were rectified
and INS Kolkata was finally commissioned 2014. The Kolkata class
comprises of 3 ships namely – INS Kolkata, INS Kochi, INS Chennai.
All 3 named on the coastal cities of India.
warships a packed with a mix of indigenous, Russian, and Western
sensors, equipment and weapons. Weapon
nuclear capable supersonic missiles (16 missiles) These can reach a
speed of 2.8 Mach (3 457 km/h) and engage hostile ships or land
targets. So these Indian destroyers have significant offensive
capabilities. Also there are Indo-Israel jointly developed Barak-8 air
defense missiles (32 missiles). These have a range of up to 90 km.
weapons include a single 76 mm dual-purpose gun and four AK-630 CIWS.
Anti-submarine weapon include 533 mm torpedoes and anti-submarine
rocket launchers. These vessels can house two
HAL Dhruv or
Westland Sea King.
The Atago class are large Japan's destroyers with strong anti-air
warfare capability. This class is a scaled-up and improved version
Kongou class (a Japanese version of the US
Arleigh Burke class). Two Atago class ships are in service with
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and two more are being
class warships carry Aegis world-class air defense system. It
integrates a mix of Japanese- and American-made systems, including
weapons, radar and fire control into one highly efficient system,
capable of controlling a fleet battle above and below the surface.
Furthermore the Aegis system used on Atago class ships is more
capable than that, used on the previous Kongou class.
role of the Atago class destroyers is to provide air defense for the
fleet. These warships can even engage ballistic missiles. There is a
96-cell Mk.41 VLS with 64 cells in the forward area and 32 cells in
the stern area. These are packed with a mix of SM-2MR Standard
missiles, SM-3 anti-ballistic missiles and RUM-139 ASROC
The same VLS
could also pack
Tomahawk anti-ship and land attack cruise missiles. However in
line with Japan's post-war constitution the Atago class does not
carry Tomahawk missiles. Instead anti-ship capability is provided by
less capable Type 90 (SSM-1B) anti-ship missiles. These anti-ship
missiles have a range of 150 km and carry a 225 kg warhead. In
concept these are similar to the US
though it looks like these Japanese missiles are more advanced than
the Harpoons. The Atago class can carry up to 8 of these missiles on
two quadruple launchers.
capabilities of the Atago class warships is rather week, even
compared with the Indian
Kolkata class destroyers, that are much smaller.
class has a 127 mm dual-purpose gun in a stealth-shaped mount. The
gun is the same as on the previous Kongou class, its barrel has
extended from 54 calibers to 62 calibers. It can handle strengthened
powder charges and has a maximum range of 38 km. This gun can engage
hostile ships, air targets, and bombard land targets.
defense against incoming anti-ship missiles is provided by two 20 mm
Phalanx CIWS. One of them is located in the
forward area, while another one is in the stern area.
warfare there are 2 triple-tube torpedo launchers for Mk.46 Mod.5
Neartip, or Japanese Type 73 torpedoes.
the Atago class accommodates only a single SH-60K helicopter. Though
most warships of similar size and displacement can accommodate two
warships are operated by a crew of 300 sailors, including the
aircrew, and can function as fleet command centers.
For much of the last four decades, the primary focus of the Japanese
Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) has been on anti-air and
anti-submarine warfare. During the 1980s and 1990s, the increasing
threat from China, together with the reduction of the US military
presence in the region, meant that Japan was forced to take a more
active military role in Asian waters.
To meet this new role a new Kongou class of guided-missile
destroyers has been commissioned.
Based loosely upon the
Arleigh Burke class, the Kongous have been built to mercantile
instead of warship standards. However, they are slightly bigger than
the American ships, and carry an improved lightweight version of the
Aegis combat system. It integrates weapons, radar and fire control
into one highly efficient system, capable of controlling a fleet
battle above and below the surface. Actually the Kongou class
destroyers are one of the largest destroyers in the world. In terms
of size and displacement these are nearly as large as cruisers.
The lead ship of the
class, Kongou, was commissioned in 1993. It was followed by three
more similar warships.
external difference between these vessels and the Burkes is that the
Kongous have a longer flush deck at the stern, making it easier to
handle helicopters up to the size of
SH-60J Seahawk or larger. Though it looks like due to this
improvement the Kongou class lost some of the Arleigh Burke class's
The main role of these warships is fleet air defense. The
Kongou class ships are an extremely important element in the
protection of Japan. Their sophisticated long-range air defense
capability is seen as a national asset beyond their duty to protect
of the Kongou class are two Mk.41 vertical launch systems with a
total of 90 Standard SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles.
two 20 mm Phalanx CIWS, that provide last ditch protection against
incoming anti-ship missiles. There is also a 127 mm dual-purpose
rapid-fire cannon that can engage both surface and air targets, or
bombard land targets.
capability is provided by 2 quadrupple
Harpoon missile launchers. However
the Kongou class lacks
any significant land attack capabilities.
are two tripple launchers for Mk.46 Mod.5 Neartip anti-submarine
torpedoes. Anti-submarine capability is also provided by a SH-60J
development of the Kongou class became the
class anti-air warfare
destroyers. These are essentially scaled-up versions of the Kongou
The Japanese Aikizuki
class of general purpose destroyers are used as escorts for the
Izumo class helicopter carriers. A total of 4 Aikizuki class
ships were planned and were eventually completed. The lead ship was commissioned
with the JMSDF in 2012. The last
one was commissioned in 2014.
The Aikizuki class is
based on the previous Takanami class destroyers. Their main role is
to escort Hyuga
class helicopter carries, as well as
class Aegis destroyers, and to shield them from air, surface and
underwater threats. The Aikizuki class ships pack
more advanced equipment than their predecessors, including new
sensors and sonar and are slightly larger than the Takanami class vessels.
Furthermore the Aikizuki class has cleaner lines in order to reduce
the radar cross-section. Other improvements include more powerful
engines. Also the Aikizuki class destroyers have an indigenous ATECS
battle management system, that is being called the Japanese Aegis.
class destroyers have an indigenous combat system, which includes AESA radar and fire control
system. It is a derivative of the combat system, used on Hyuga class
helicopter carriers, but has additional local area defense
capability. Data is transferred among JMSDF ships by a secured Link
class guided missile destroyers carry balanced armament, that
provides protection airborne, surface and underwater threats. There
is a 32-cell Mk.41 VLS, packed with a mix
of RIM-162 Evolves Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) surface-to-air
missiles and ASROC anti-submarine missiles. The lead ship, Aikizuki,
is armed with RUM-139 ASROC missiles, while all later ships carry
the Type 07, a Japanese equivalent of this missile.
anti-ship capability is provided by two quadrupple launchers with
Type 90 (SSM-1B) anti-ship cruise missiles. These anti-ship missiles
have a range of 150 km and carry a 225 kg warhead. In concept these
are similar to the US
though it looks like these Japanese missiles are more advanced than
the Harpoons. The JMSDF actually replaces Harpoon missiles on its
ships by their Type 90.
There is a
127 mm dual-purpose gun in a stealth-shaped mount. The gun is
similar to that as used on the larger Atago class destroyers. It has
an extended 62 calibers barrel and can handle strengthened powder
charges. The gun has a maximum range of 38 km. It can engage hostile
ships, air targets, and bombard land targets.
defense against incoming air threats is provided by two 20 mm
Phalanx Block 1B CIWS. One of them is
located in the forward area, while another is in the stern area.
Anti-submarine capability is provided by two tripple launchers for
324 mm torpedoes. These can launch Mk.46 Mod.5 Neartip, or Japanese
Type 73 torpedoes. Also the Aikizuki class ships have an
There is a
hangar for a single Mitsubishi SH-60K anti-submarine helicopter. It
is mainly intended for anti-submarine duties.
Some of the
Aikizuki class systems, such as hull sonar, towed array sonar,
electronic warfare suite, are comparable to those used on the
Daring class (United
The Daring class
eveloped from a joint Anglo-French-Italian project called 'Project
Horizon'. However, this initiative was beset with delays and
arguments. The Royal Navy wanted a larger destroyer, which would
operate in the Atlantic ocean, could patrol large areas and provide
air defense for the fleet. On the other hand France and Italy
desired for smaller warships to operate in the Mediterranean region.
In 1999, the Royal Navy withdrew from the joint project and
commenced the development of the Type 45 class. Significant changes
were made to the original project. The lead ship, HMS Daring,
entered service in 2009. The last of 6 ships was commissioned
These are the largest surface combatants operated by the Royal Navy
since World War II. Also these are the most advanced warships of the
The main role of the Daring class is to provide air defense for the
of the class's features include Principal Anti-Aircraft Missile
System (PAAMS). The PAAMS incorporates 48-cell VLS with 32 Aster-30 missiles
(80 km range) and 16 Aster-15 missiles (30 km range). The system can intercept super-agile missiles
fitted with re-attack modes, together with the full envelope of
current and anticipated air threats. Furthermore, the ship can
engage missile threats operating either individually or in salvos.
In addition to PAAMS, it is hoped that the Daring class will
Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Anti-ship capability is provided by two quadrupple
The ships feature a comprehensive suite of sensors. An S1850M radar
provides wide-area, long-range search. This is reinforced by an
MFS-7000 bow-mounted sonar. Air defence combat management is co-ordinated
by the Sampson radar system, combining surveillance and tracking
roles in a single system. This can detect and track hostile aircraft
or missiles while providing guidance for the ship's own weapons
systems. This radar is more capable than the radars used on the
Franco-Italian Horizon class destroyers.
The ship's sensors are linked together by the combat management
system, while communications with other vessels and satellite
systems are facilitated through the fully-integrated communications
Ship protection is provided by the Surface Ship Torpedo Defence
System. Furthermore, the ship can embark a complement of 60 Royal
Marine Commandos with a supporting helicopter. The flight deck
accommodates the Royal Navy's
Merlin helicopter, although initially the ships operated with
The Type 45 or Daring class features a revolutionary WR-21 advanced
gas turbine engine. The engines features an Integrated Electric
Propulsion System, which eliminates the gearbox and increases fuel
The ship's interior has been designed with 'room for growth' as a
major consideration. While the ship's complement include around 190
crew, there is an option to increase this to 235. This permit the
accommodation of specialist personnel, which allow for an increased
range of missions, such as humanitarian relief, to be performed.
The Project Horizon started life in 1992 as a cooperative
Anglo-Franco-Italian development. In Italy it was known as Project
Orizzonte, which translates as "horizon". An international joint
venture company was established in 1995 to produce the new warships.
However due to differing national requirements this initiative was
beset with delays and arguments. The Royal Navy wanted a larger
destroyer, which would operate in the Atlantic ocean, could patrol
large areas and provide air defense for the fleet. On the other hand
France and Italy desired for smaller and less capable warships to
operate in the Mediterranean region. Also there were workshare
arguments. In 1999 the United Kingdom left the project and
eventually developed its equivalent - the
Daring class destroyers.
France and Italy continued development on their own. In 2000 a
contract was signed to jointly produce 4 ships, two for each
country. Originally four more ships were planned, tow for each
country. But eventually these were never ordered.
Italy ordered Andrea Doria and Caio Duilio. The first one was
commissioned in 2007. It reached full operational capability in
2008. The second ship followed in 2009. France ordered Forbin and
Chevalier Paul. The first one was commissioned in 2008 and the
second followed in 2009.
The Horizon class ships are officially referred as frigates. However
considering their size and powerful armament these ships are clearly
destroyers. These are called frigates purely for political reasons.
These vessels have enhanced stealth features with significantly
reduced radar cross section and noise levels.
The main radar is the EMPAR phased array multi-purpose radar. It
detects air targets and provides tracking for the missiles.
The Horizon class destroyers are fitted with a 48-cell VLS for a mix
of Aster-15 (range 30 km) and Aster-30 (range 120 km) surface-to-air
Anti-ship capability comes from two quadrupple launchers. French
warships are armed with
Exocet anti-ship missiles, while Italian warships carry OTOMAT
Teseo Mk.2A anti-ship missiles. These have a range of 180 km and
carry a 210 kg warhead.
The French Horizon class warships are armed with two OTO Melara 76
mm Super Rapid guns. These rapid-firing dual purpose guns can engage
both surface and air targets and even act as CIWS. On French ships
last ditch defense is provided by a SADRAL launcher with six
short-range surface-to-air missiles. Also there are two 20-mm
automatic cannons for engaging small surface targets.
On the other hand Italian warships are armed with three 76 mm
rapid-firing guns. Also there are two Oerlikon 25 mm cannons for
engaging small surface targets.
destroyers are armed with 2 twin launchers for MU90 lightweight
torpedoes. For defense against incoming torpedoes there are 2
launchers with SLAT anti-torpedo system.
Horizon class destroyers can accommodate a single helicopter. It can
NH90 HFH, or
It can be used for long-range anti-submarine warfare, search and
rescue, utility and other roles. Aviation facilities include a
flight deck and hangar.