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Type 093 Shang-class Nuclear Attack Submarine

The new Type 093 Shang-class SSN is thought to be similar in performance to Russian second generation designs such as the Victor III, although it would be incorrect to describe the Chinese submarine as a copy of the Russian Victor III.

In March 2007 Seapower Magazine published an article based on information supplied in December 2006 by the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and subsequently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. According to ONI, open sources suggest that China has launched units of the TYPE 093 SSN class, which is the follow-on to the HAN SSN class, and is currently conducting sea trials for this class. Incorporating foreign technologies as well as indigenous Chinese systems. the TYPE 093 is expected to be quieter than its predecessor. Furthermore, the TYPE 093 will carry more advanced weapons than the HAN, including ant-ship cruise missiles and more modem torpedoes. China has built these features into the TYPE 093 in an effort to improve the PLAN's ability to conduct anti-surface warfare at greater ranges from the Chinese coast than its diesel submarine force offers.

Type 093 Shang-class Design

The "Expo of National Defense and Armed Forces Achievements since New China's Foundation" was held in Beijing "Chinese People Revolutionary military Museum" in June 2008. Several domestic military equipment types were unveiled to the public, including the Type 093 attack nuclear submarine and Type 05 self-propelled howitzer. The Type 093 nuclear-powered submarine was displayed in a photo of it sailing on the surface, labeled "New Type Nuclear Submarine". The distinctive appearance compared with the Type 091 sub, however, demonstrates that the boat in the photo is the legendary Type 093 nuclear attack submarine.

The SHANG's range and weaponry will give the PLA its first non-nuclear global strike capability. As with the Song SSK, the new submarine incorporates advanced quieting with a hydrodynamically efficient hull form, a single shaft and a highly skewed 7-bladed propeller. The submarine is equipped with torpedoes, antisubmarine warfare missiles, and a submarine-launched antiship cruise missile, possibly a follow-on to the C801, as well as the projected Land Attack Cruise Missile.

Despite the early rumors that the Type 093 was based on the design of the Russian Victor III class nuclear attack submarine, it appears that the two submarines bear no resemblance in appearance. However, it cannot be ruled out that Russian technologies were being incorporated into the Type 093's design. While there is no direct indication of Russian technology transfer to China connected with this program, Beijing's next-generation nuclear submarine programs reflect Russian influence.China's new indigenously produced nuclear attack submarine, the SHANG class, benefits greatly from Russian technology and design - it is armed with both ASCMs and LACMs.

The Type 093 is estimated to be 6,000~7,000t displacement when dived, significantly larger than the 4,100 -4,500tons (surfaced) and 4,500-5,500 (dived) displacement of the earlier Type 091 Han class. As revealed by the submarine model and Modern Ships photograph, the submarine features a water-drop shape hull, with a pair of fin-mounted hydroplanes and four diving planes. The submarine is fitted with sophisticated sonar systems, including bow-mounted sonar and H/SQC-207 flank-mounted sonar. Three flank-mounted sonar arrays are clearly visible on the hull of the submarine.

The Type 093 submarine has six 533mm bow torpedo tubes (4 above, 2 below), and is presumed to be equipped with a range of anti-submarine and anti-surface vessel torpedoes of wire-, acoustic- and wake-homing, based on both Chinese and Russian designs. The torpedo tubes can also be used to launch Chinese indigenous YJ-82 anti-ship missiles. Some reports suggested the capability of launching land-attack cruise missiles (LACM), but this cannot be confirmed.

The most notable change in Type 093 submarine is the disappearance of the control planes on sub's sail. Previously, an unconfirmed blurred image of Type 093 submarine had corroborates the change. The Type 093 sub seems to use bow diving planes like US Navy's Virginia class submarines. PLA Navy has known that a decreased sized sub sail can reduce the noise and resistance force when in underwater maneuver.

The Type 093 would be expected to haves a smaller "conning tower" with no space for rudder steering gear. But in the picture, the sub's "conning tower" looks to be higher and larger than before. Besides, the positions of Type 093's sail, rescue buoy and bow antenna are changed, changes which can be compared with the displayed Type 091A model and other previous photos. The photo gives the impression that the sail's position further aft than before, a design change needed bow-diving-plane configuration.

Type 093 Shang-class Program

The development of Chinas type 093 submarine started sometime in the 1980s or before. Construction of the first unit began in 1994, but it was not launched until 2002. In the mid-1990s the launch of the initial unit of this class from the Bohai Shipyard in Huludao was expected around the year 2000. The first unit was reported to be under construction since 1997-8, and was expected to be launched sometime after 2001. However, the extended re-fits to the Han-class SSNs appeared to delay the development of the Type 093. It was reported in August 1999 that China had begun construction of a new nuclear-powered submarine at the Huludao shipyard on the Bohai Gulf northeast of Beijing, apparently the first of China's new class of attack submarines. The first unit launch was expected in 2002, with an in-service date of 2004. As of early 2001 the Project 093 nuclear-powered attack submarine construction program appeared unlikely to produce the first unit until the 2004-2005 timeframe. According to some sources two units of this type are planned, while other sources suggest that as many as 6-8 of the Type 093 SSNs are projected, with possibly four to six Type 093 submarines entering service by 2012.

According to a 2002 estimate by the US Department of Defense, the first Type 093 Class SSN would probably become operational soon after 2005. It eventually would replace the HAN Class SSNs, all of which China will withdraw from service by 2020.

It is speculated to be similar to a Russian Victor III using two Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) and other Russian technologies. However, various sources state that the 093 has an advanced high temperature high efficiency reactor plant. Whatever the case, the use of the technology gained by the civilian nuclear industry has the potential to greatly improve submarines designed and built in China.

The transfer of Western and Russian technology most likely played a part in providing the 093 and future submarines with advanced I&C equipment, a better-designed reactor fuel cell, and higher quality construction of the reactor plant. This is the minimum that the Chinese would be able to get from the technology that they had obtained by the mid-1990s when the 093 was started. The delays on the ship could very well have been caused by continuous attempts to update the design as construction progressed. The 093 was laid down in 1994, but construction began on the Qinshan 2 nuclear power plant in 1996 (with French assistance), Qinshan 3 in 1998 (Canadian), and Ling Ao in 1995 (French). The Yinbin Fuel Plant was upgraded by the French in 1994,18 and from 1994 to 1996, Westinghouse made the plans for the AP600 (its most advanced civilian nuclear power plant) available for the Chinese to study. Thus, the nuclear technology flowing into China during the period from 1994 to 2002 was by any measure very substantial. The Chinese may have made the decision early on to delay the 093 in order to incorporate the maximum amount of foreign nuclear technology possible.

This would also help to explain why it has taken so long to build the 093. The conventional theory that the 093 is similar to a Victor III design, and that the Russians assisted in its construction, by contrast, would predict rather rapid development. This, however, has not occurred, suggesting at least the possibility that there is something significantly different about this submarine. The July 2003 report on China's military by the US Department of Defense revised the 2002 analysis and indicated that in 2002, China launched the lead hull of its next-generation SSN, the Type 093-class, which it expected to enter service by late 2004 or early 2005. An additional three units were expected to enter the PLAN by 2010, where they will form the backbone of China's future forward anti-carrier warfare capability and eventually replace the HAN. According to the 2004 report, the lead hull of its next-generation SSN was expected to enter service by 2005, with additional units to follow.

The first two Type 093 nuclear attack submarines were reportedly in service in 2006. The 2007 edition of the IISS Military Balance does not report any units of this class in service. In testimony March 29, 2007 before the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission Cortez A. Cooper III, Director, East Asia Studies Center, Hicks and Associates, Inc. stated that ".... the PLA may have more than 10 SHANGs operational by the end of next year" [ie, by the end of 2008]. This is at varriance with most of what is known about this program.


The 2013 report on China's military by the US Department of Defense reported "Two SHANG-class SSNs (Type 093) are already in service, and China is building four improved variants of the SHANG-class SSN, which will replace the aging HAN-class SSNs (Type 091). In the next decade, China will likely construct the Type 095 guided-missile attack submarine (SSGN)..." Most other sources agree, but Combat Fleets reports a third unit in service as early as 2009. The implication is that the class would halt construction at six units in favor of the Type 095.

The 2013 Report To Congress Of The U.S.-China Economic And Security Review Commission reported in November 2013 that "In 2012, China began building four improved variants of its SHANG-class nuclear attack submarine (SSN)."

Chinese shipbuilders had completed three advanced nuclear-propelled submarines that can fire the latest vertically launched anti-ship missiles, local media reported. Satellite pictures broadcast in APril 2015 by China Central Television showed three submarines anchored at an unidentified port. The vessels were reported to be Type-093G submarines just completed by a shipyard and ready to be delivered to the Navy of the Peoples Liberation Army.

Type-093G is an advanced version of Type-093, Chinas second-generation nuclear-powered attack submarines. Compared to the relatively short 110-m regular variant, the Type-093G has a longer hull to make room for a vertical launch system.

The launchers are designed to fire YJ-18, the vertically launched version of Chinas YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missile, according to the Navys website. The advanced missile can reportedly carry a 300-kilogram warhead to a range over 200 kilometers and is capable of performing maneuvers at speeds of up to Mach 3 just before hitting its target. The Type-093G submarine also has improved speed and mobility, and reduced noise compared to the regular version.

Type 093 Shang-class Nomenclature

Thousands of archaeological finds in the Huang He Valley--the apparent cradle of Chinese civilization--provide evidence about the Shang dynasty, which endured roughly from 1700 to 1027 BC. The Shang dynasty (also called the Yin dynasty in its later stages) is believed to have been founded by a rebel leader who overthrew the last Xia ruler. Its civilization was based on agriculture, augmented by hunting and animal husbandry. Two important events of the period were the development of a writing system, as revealed in archaic Chinese inscriptions found on tortoise shells and flat cattle bones (commonly called oracle bones), and the use of bronze metallurgy. A number of ceremonial bronze vessels with inscriptions date from the Shang period; the workmanship on the bronzes attests to a high level of civilization.

A line of hereditary Shang kings ruled over much of northern China, and Shang troops fought frequent wars with neighboring settlements and nomadic herdsmen from the inner Asian steppes. The capitals, one of which was at the site of the modern city of Anyang, were centers of glittering court life. Court rituals to propitiate spirits and to honor sacred ancestors were highly developed. In addition to his secular position, the king was the head of the ancestor- and spirit-worship cult. Evidence from the royal tombs indicates that royal personages were buried with articles of value, presumably for use in the afterlife. Perhaps for the same reason, hundreds of commoners, who may have been slaves, were buried alive with the royal corpse.

Archaeological evidence about the Shang comes mainly from excavations at Zhengzhou and Anyang, both in Henan province. Zhengzhou (the type site of what is called Erligang culture) is assigned to the period 1500 to 1300 BC and Anyang (ancient Yinxu) to the period of roughly 1200 to 1050 BC. Remains at Zhengzhou include the foundations of city walls, large buildings, bronze foundries, and bone and pottery workshops, as well as a number of burial sites. By 1500 BC, Shang burial traditions were becoming well defined. The deceased lay in a wooden coffin at the bottom of a shaft. Below the coffin chamber was a sacrificial pit (yaokeng) containing the body of a sacrificed man or dog (probably a guard). Surrounding the chamber was a platform (ercengtai) that held grave goods and more human sacrifices. Sacrifices of humans and animals were also placed beneath the foundations of buildings at this time. Bronze vessels included in burials were much larger than those created previously, and more varied in shape.

Archaeology has revealed that important regional centers existed alongside the Shang, including those centered around the site of Dayangzhou, south of the Yangzi River basin in Jiangxi province, and the site of Sanxingdui, just north of the modern city of Chengdu in Sichuan province. Dayangzhou produced a large burial chamber filled with hundreds of ceramics, bronzes (both weapons and vessels), and jades. Some of the bronzes could be related to types found at Erligang, but others, such as the meat-cooking vessels and bronze bells, were unique to Dayangzhou. Dayangzhou was also distinctive for its use of human heads, ram heads, deer, and especially tigers in design.

The last Shang ruler, a despot according to standard Chinese accounts, was overthrown by a chieftain of a frontier tribe called Zhou, which had settled in the Wei Valley in modern Shaanxi Province. The Zhou dynasty had its capital at Hao, near the city of Xi'an, or Chang'an, as it was known in its heyday in the imperial period. Sharing the language and culture of the Shang, the early Zhou rulers, through conquest and colonization, gradually sinicized, that is, extended Shang culture through much of China Proper north of the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River).

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