Find a Security Clearance Job!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Type 032 Qing-class test submarine

China's PLA Navy has recently constructed the world's largest conventional submarine. The Type 032 was initially called the Type 043 by some sources, creating some confusion. Some reports claimed that the Type 032 submarine may be a cause for concern as a general purpose submarine, not only responsible for testing JL-2 ICBMs, but the design could also be fitted as an "aircraft carrier killer", carrying anti-ship ballistic missiles. Thus far only one has been built, supporting the test platform interpretation - if more than one appeared, the "aircraft carrier killer" interpretation would begin to gain currency.

With a surfaced displacement of 3,797 tonnes and submerged displacement of 6,628 tonnes, the Qing-class is currently the largest diesel-electric submarine in the world. It is widely reported that before the Type 032, the I-400 of the Imperial Japanese Navy constructed during World War II was the largest diesel-electric submarine ever built. With a surfaced displacement of 5,223 tons, and 6,560 tons submerged, the I-400 was some 400 feet long, much longer than the 300 foot long Type 032 Qing. The Japanese navy built some of the largest submarines in WWII, which were used for transporting vital supplies and reinforcements to outposts outposts located in Allied controlled waters unreachable by surface vessels. Some, like I-400, were designed to carry up to three aircraft and could range as far as 37,000 miles cruising on the surface at 14 knots. With the ability to carry three Aichi M6A1 Seiran sea-planes, the 400 foot long I-400 was designed to launch air attacks against the Panama Canal.

This claim to fame may or may not be true. The Soviet Project 940 "Lenok" India class conventional submarines were 344 feet long, and had a 3,900 tons surfaced displacement [slightly greater than the Type 032], and a 4,800-6,840 tons submerged displacement [the upper range is slightly greater than the Type 032]. Equipped with two deep submergence rescue vehicles (DSRV), the India class submarine was designed to locate submarines in distress and to rescue the distressed submarines crew. The India was fitted with medical facilities and decompression chambers that allow the submarine to treat several dozen individuals at a time. Both units are no longer be operational, having been placed in reserve around 1990 and scrapped in 1995.

The new submarine was notable for a large sail and under-hull extension that were believed to be designed to enable China to test new submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Recent images appears to confirm the submarine is a replacement for the long-serving Type 031, a former Soviet Project 629 'Golf'-class conventional missile submarine (SSB) built in China in the mid-1960s. The Type 031 submarine had underwater displacement of 2,950 tons, and was mainly responsible for testing new missiles. The Type 031 wss involved in JL-1 and JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile test launches, but eventually it was too long time of service, with the hull aging, and could not meet the requirements of the new missile tests. Compared to the older Type 031 Golf SSB, the new Type 032 submarines in the structure and performance have a lot of improvements. The submarine can supply the standard crew of 85 people for 30 days and nights in the underwater navigation. To meet test needs, the submarine can accommodate up to 200 crew and researchers.

The development of the submarine began in January 2005, construction started in January 2008, and the boat was completed in September 2010. The country's latest conventional missile submarine (SSB) was first seen at the Wuhan Shipyard in September 2010. In September 2012 the boat completed sea trials. It entered service with the PLA Navy on 16 October 2012 and was ready to conduct weapons tests in 2013.

China's Type 032 will be able to launch various weapons including the JL-2A submarine-launched ballistic missile [from tubes in the sail] and CJ-20A cruise missiles and the YJ-18 anti-ship missile from tubes in the hull forward of the sail. In addition to weapons systems, the 032-type submarines is also responsible for testing China's latest technology. For example, it is China's first installation with integral submarine escape pod, a device used extensively in the Russian nuclear submarines. This pod can improve the submarine crew self-help capacity to ensure the safety of personnel during an emergency. The submarine can carry about 50 special forces personnel, the use of special operations or underwater unmanned underwater vehicle submerged secrets to perform short-range combat missions. US Navy nuclear submarine equipped with special forces adopt such tactics in the war on terror repeatedly perform penetration missions. So, while reports concluded that although 032 submarine is mainly responsible for the current test task, but it has adapted to the potential of multi-mission platform.

China, if necessary, could supplement strategic nuclear submarines with Type 032 conventional submarines, with much lower production costs, as a way rapidly increase the Chinese sea-based nuclear forces. Although they have a short range compared to nuclear submarines, they can be adequately protected in the Yellow Sea or the South China Sea cruise, carrying JL-2 7000-8000 km range ICBM, enough to cover Alaska and Indian targets.

Since a large ballistic missile submarine carries military assets capable of delivering enormous destruction against an adversary’s targets, it is itself a target of considerable military importance, If the submarine’s position were to become known in wartime, there wouId be a substantial incentive to attempt to destroy it. If a flexible targetting strategy were adopted for a submarine force, submarines might be ordered to fire a Iimited number of missiles at enemy targets. The firing of these missiIes could potentialIy reveal the position of the submarine to enemy surface ships at great distances, to space-based sensors, radar systems, and possibly even sonar systems. It could be necessary to make the survivability of remaining missiles as independent of previously launched missiles as possible. This could be done if the submarine force was made up of a large number of submarines each carrying a small number of missiles.

Small, slow-moving submarines would in fact have certain signatures that are different from those of larger, faster moving submarines. In addition, a fleet of many submarllnes poses both a qualitatively and quantitatively different set of operational problems to an antisubmarine force than does a fleet of a few submarines.

Wuhan-based China State Shipbuilding Industrial Corp (CSIC) is reported to have signed a contract in April 2011 to deliver six Type 032 Qing-class conventional attack submarines (SSK) from the Wuchang Shipyard. Each can carry three CJ-10K submarine-launched, 1,500km-range land attack cruise missiles (LACM) capable of being armed with unitary tactical nuclear warheads. The first Qing is a Test Platform to test the JL-2 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. The Qings Pakistan signed up for won't be ready before the 2016/17 timeframe. A total of three such SSKs were reported to be on order from China’s PLA Navy as well.

This claim must be taken with a grain of salt. The story is very poorly attested [there is only one primary instance], and in somre respects raises more questions than it answers. Type 032 Qing-class is a lot of submarine to be carrying only three torpedo sized cruise missiles. Most reporting suggests that the PLAN is only buying one of this type as an SLBM test platform, and the reported three units is too many for test purposes but not enough for operational applications. The export by China to Pakistan of the 1,500km-range CJ-10K cruise missile would be a clear violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Type 032 Type 032 Type 032
Type 032 Type 032

Surface displacement 3,797 tons
Submerged displacement 6,628 tons
Length 92.5-92.6 meters / 300 feet
Full Width 10 meters
Draft 6.85 meters
Height 17.2 meters
Hull structure Double hull
Submerged depth, normal160 meters
Submerged depth, maximum 200 meters
Power Systems Diesel
Fuel Diesel fuel
Surface Speed 10 knots
Submerged Speed 14 knots
Endurance 30 nights
Torpedo 533mm torpedo launch tubes
Missile Ground to ground missiles and anti-ship missile capability
Crew 88 people
Aaccommodat130 for five days
200 for three days

Join the mailing list