Russian Assistance for the Type 093 Nuclear Attack Submarine

Status: First launched in 2002; 6-8 projected; uses Russian technology and assistance

Displacement : 7,000- 8,000 tons dived (est.)

Propulsion: 2x nuclear power plants; steam turbine drive

Dive Depth: 400m operational, 600m maximum, if comparable to Russian VICTOR III

Speed: 30 kts at least

Armament: may have 533mm and 650mm tubes; wire-guided torpedoes; long-range anti-ship torpedoes; possible supercavitating torpedoes; anti-ship cruise missiles; Novator CLUB-S; PLA-made land-attack cruise missiles; mines; countermeasures







The PLA's long-standing ambition to deploy a second generation of nuclear-powered attack (SSN) and ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) was realized some time in 2002, with the help of Russia. In July 2003, for the first time in a Western source, the Pentagon reported that the PLA had launched its first Project 093 nuclear powered attack submarine in 2002.[1] The 093 nuclear attack submarine is also the basis for the new Project 094 SSBN. Russian assistance for the 093 program from the Rubin submarine design bureau is reported to date back to at least 1995.[2] Rubin assistance is reported to include new hull coatings to reduce radiated noise.[3] However, Rubin potentially would have been able to offer a range of critical assistance to the PLA, to include overall hull design, engine and machinery quieting, combat system design, plus weapon system and countermeasures outfit.


In 1997 the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence estimated that the 093 would be similar in capability to the Soviet era VICTOR III SSN,[4] the last of which entered the Russian Navy in 1992. Furthermore, in 2003 the Pentagon stated, "The Type 093-class, will compare to the technology of the Russian VICTOR III SSN and will carry wire-guided and wake-homing torpedoes, as well as cruise missiles."[5] Russian contributions based on this design would have been eased considering that VICTOR III SSNs were built in the Komsomolsk shipyard near Vladivostok. If the 093 succeeds in matching or exceeding the performance of the VICTOR III, then it would represent a significant advance in PLA SSN technology over its first-generation Project 091 HAN class. The VICTOR III is rated nearly as quiet as early models of the U.S. 688 (Los Angeles) class SSN,[6] but it should be expected that the PLA would incorporate further quieting advances developed by the Russians. Furthermore, the VICTOR III uses a sophisticated sonar system, to include bow, flank-mounted and towed sonar arrays. The 093 can be expected to incorporate either Russian or PLA-designed sonar of each type. In addition inasmuch as the VICTOR III's maximum dive depth is said to exceed 400 meters,[7] perhaps up to 600m, it is possible that the 093 may also be able to reach these depths. This would exceed the reported maximum depth for the 688 class SSN, and complicate detection in deep-ocean areas.


Regarding weapons, comparison with the VICTOR III and Chinese sources[8] suggest that the 093 will be armed with both regular 533mm-width and the unique Russian 650mm torpedo tubes. The latter would allow the 093 to use Russia's unique class of heavy torpedoes like the TT-5. Twice the weight of the largest Russian 533mm torpedoes, these are designed for long range strikes against large combat ships like aircraft carriers. In addition, it can be expected that the 093 will carry a range of other Russian and indigenous designed weapons. These might include the Russian SHKVAL rocket-propelled supercavitating torpedo or a new PLA-designed version of this weapon, and Novator CLUB-S long-range anti-ship missiles. It is also likely that by the end of the decade that the 093 SSNs will be equipped with new PLA-designed land-attack cruise missiles.


In 1997 the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence projected that the PLAN would have 3 Type 093 SSNs by 2010. In 2003, the Pentagon reported that there could be four 093s by 2010.[9] Other sources report that eventual production could reach 6 to 8 units.[10] The first unit was reported to have commenced construction in 1999.[11] In 1997 ONI artists projected that the 093 would feature a teardrop hull similar to the U.S. SKIPJACK class. A PRC artist's projection from a 2001 issue of the Mainland magazine Modern Ships showed the 093 with a bow structure that resembles that of the Russian VICTOR or AKULA class nuclear attack submarines.[12] This would be consistent with reported of Russian assistance to the Type 093 program. The PRC artist's projections have also shown six flank sonar arrays on the 093, which would indicate an advanced passive sonar detection capability. The artist's projection illustrated the 093 launching a cruise missile from a torpedo tube.


This artist's projection may or may not reflect real plans, but is consistent with PLA aspirations for its second generation nuclear powered attack submarines. The advent of the 093, especially when eventually armed with land-attack cruise missiles, means that the PLA will have a limited means of global naval power projection for either nuclear or non-nuclear weapons. So equipped, the 093 SSN could enable the PLA to undertake global precision strike missions to defend clients or to intervene on the side of favored factions abroad. It is also possible that 093 SSNs could perform long-range patrols to secure sea lanes to the Persian Gulf that will become increasingly important to Beijing. And finally, it is possible that 093 SSNs will play a key role in escorting new Type 094 SSBNs to protect them from U.S., Indian or other hostile submarines.


Russian Assistance for the Type 094 Nuclear Powered Ballistic Missile Submarine

Status: Now in development or early construction; will benefit from Russian assistance to the 093 SSN

Displacement: 10,000-15,000 tons submerged (est.)

Propulsion: 2x nuclear powerplants; steam turbines

Dive Depth: 300-600m (est.)

Speed: @ 30 kts

Armament: 16x JL-2 SLBMs (8,000+km range); torpedoes; anti-ship cruise missiles; land-attack cruise missiles; countermeasures



While the PLA's single Type 092 XIA class SSBN emerged from a long term refit in 2002, it is clear that the PLA is investing heavily in developing, or even the initial construction of its second generation Type 094 SSBN. Following the example of the relationship between the 091 SSN and the 092 SSBN, it is expected that the 094 SSBN will be based on the new 093 SSN. As such, the 094 will also incorporate Russian design assistance from the Type 093. The 094 is also expected to incorporate an improved nuclear power plant, quieting technology, sonar, countermeasures and combat control systems first developed for the Type 093. It is expected to resemble the Russian DELTA-1 class SSBN in size and capability, but to be much quieter.[13] A Chinese source notes the 094 may be quieter than Russia's most advanced SSBN, the TYPHOON.[14]


In 1997 the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) projected that the 094 would be equipped with 16 tubes to carry the new JL-2 SLBM. This missile will have a range greater than 8,000km. In 1997 ONI also estimated that the first 094 would be ready by 2005.[15] This projection is now obsolete, with more recent estimates noting the 094 SSBN may not be launched until 2008 or after,[16] and the Pentagon expecting launch "by the end of the decade."[17] In 1997 ONI estimated that three 094s would be completed by 2010, while other reports suggest that the PLA may build a total of three to four 094s.[18]


For the PLA, the advent of truly reliable SSBNs capable of regular long patrols in high degrees of stealth would revolutionize its second strike nuclear capabilities, bringing it to par with Russia and the United States. And with an expanded number of nuclear attack and ballistic missile submarines, it is also possible that the PLA will expand the number of submarine bases beyond those in the North Sea Fleet. Should the PLA, for example, build a new nuclear submarine base in the area under control of the South Sea Fleet, this would allow the PLA to sustain a second strike capability aimed at India. It could conceivably allow the PLA to consider SSBN patrols deep into the southern hemisphere in order to be able to out flank projected U.S. National Missile Defenses that will be expecting attacks from Northern or trans-oceanic routes.


Possible Interest In Purchasing Russian OSCAR and AKULA Submarines

OSCAR II (Project 949A)

Displacement: 22,500 tons submerged

Propulsion: Two nuclear reactors

Dive Depth: 500m maximum

Speed: 32 kts

Armament: 24x SS-N-19 500km range anti-ship missiles; 4x 533 torpedo tubes with 18x weapons and 2x 650mm torpedo tubes with 4x weapons; to include wire-guided and wake-homing torpedoes, supercavitating torpedoes and tube-launched cruise missiles


AKULA II (Project 971A)

Displacement: 12,770 tons submerged

Propulsion: One nuclear reactor

Dive Depth: 600m operating, 800m maximum

Speed: 35 kts

Armament: 4x 533 torpedo tubes with 28x weapons and 4x 650mm torpedo tubes with 12x weapons; to include wire-guided and wake-homing torpedoes, supercavitating torpedoes and tube-launched cruise missiles










Prior to the 2000 summit between PRC President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Vladimir Putin, it was reported that Russia would, in the future, consider selling its AKULA class nuclear attack submarine and its OSCAR II class nuclear cruise missile submarine (SSGN). [19] One indication of the PLA's interest in the latter are reports that a PLA officer perished on the Russian OSCAR II SSGN Kursk when it sank in August 2000 following an onboard explosion.[20] Sale of the 18,000 ton OSCAR II would give the PLAN a potent attack platform. The OSCAR II is armed with 24 NPO Machinostroyenia Granit 4K-80 (SS-N-19 SHIPWRECK) 500km range supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, which when launched in salvos, are able to assess a target naval group and assign individual targets to specific missiles.[21] With this armament, the OSCAR was designed to attack U.S. aircraft carrier task groups seeking to prosecute Soviet SSBNs. Should it be acquired by the PLA, the OSCAR II's Granit missiles could be cued by new Russian-designed radar satellites the PLA intends to launch around 2006. Possible PLAN possession of OSCAR II class SSGNs would pose a grave risk to U.S. naval forces seeking to come to Taiwan's aid in the event of a PLA attack. The OSCAR II SSGN would greatly increase the PLA's ability to mass submarine-launched missiles, which would be coordinated by air and ship launched missiles, to saturate U.S. Navy ship defenses.


A possible sale of the AKULA II SSN to the PLA is made more realistic by India's apparent decision to purchase two of these SSNs. Were it to occur, sale of the latest AKULA II would provide an immediate boost to the PLAN's anti-submarine and anti-surface capabilities. Currently the most modern SSN in Russian service, it is also among the most capable and effective SSNs in use today. The AKULA II SSN's design is thought to have radiated noise levels comparable to the U.S. 688-class SSNs. It incorporates active noise-reduction technology and credited with an maximum operational dive depth of 600 meters,[22] which is reported to be matched in the West only by the new U.S. SEAWOLF SSN.[23] For emergency operations, however, the AKULA II may be able to dive as deep as 800 meters.[24] At such depths, however, it is possible to suffer acoustic vulnerabilities because noise is trapped and easier to pick up by bottom-mounted acoustic sensors. In PLA Navy service the AKULA II would likely feature the latest Russian weapons, to include wake-homing torpedoes and the 250+km range CLUB anti-ship missiles. The particular danger posed by PLA operation of AKULA II submarines would be their capacity to elude detection, perhaps, by all but the most modern U.S. SSNs, and thus pose a real threat to U.S. SSBNs.


Russian Project 887EKM KILO Class Attack Submarine

Status: Two delivered in 1995 and assigned to the East Sea Fleet

Displacement: 3,076 tons submerged

Crew: 53

Powerplant: 2x diesel engines; one electric engine

Dive Depth: 300m

Speed: 10 kt surface; 17kt submerged

Systems: Sonar: Shark Teeth low-/medium-frequency passive search, Mouse Roar high-frequency active search/attack; Radar: Snoop Tray 2, EW: Squid Head radar warning; Combat system: MVU-119/Murena

Weapons: 6x 533mm torpedo tubes with 18 weapons, to include wire guided, wake home torpedoes; or up to 24 mines; man-launched anti-aircraft missiles


By the early 1990s, the PLA's failure to produce modern conventional submarines forced it to purchase Russian KILO submarines made by the Rubin design bureau. In 1995 the PLAN received two Project 887EKM KILOs, which marked the beginning of the modernization of the PLAN submarine fleet. The Project 877EKM were Russian export versions that carried the improved Murena combat system and were capable of firing wire-guided active/passive torpedoes.[25] The KILO incorporates a double-hull construction and significant reserve buoyancy, both of which allow it to sustain battle damage and still fight. The KILO is significantly quieter than PLA-made submarines, as it utilizes advanced quieting techniques like isolating engines and other machinery on noise-insulated platforms. Its sonar suite and combat control systems are likely more advanced. The bow sonar has a surface array of 6.4m2 which can detect a submarine target at 11nm, a surface vessel at 43nm and a task force at over 100nm, depending on environmental conditions and the noise of the targets.[26]


However, when it purchased its first two KILOs, the PLAN did not also purchase adequate maintenance training and two submarines quickly suffered major breakdowns. Reportedly the problems concerned the batteries and electric motors. One may have even suffered a fire.[27] By 2000 reportedly these KILOs were repaired and were also to visit the Bol'shoy Kamen yard in the Russian Far East for scheduled overhauls.[28]

Russian KILO 636/ 636M Class Attack Submarine

Status: two Project 636 delivered in 1998 and 1999, assigned to East Sea Fleet; eight Project 636M ordered for delivery by 2005-2006

Weight: 3,126 tons submerged

Crew: 52

Powerplant: 2x diesel engines; one electric engine

Dive Depth: 300m

Speed: 12 kt surface; 20 kt submerged

Systems: Sonar: MGK 400EM; Radar: Snoop Tray 2, EW: Squid Head radar warning; Combat system: MVU-119/Murena

Weapons: 6x 533mm torpedo tubes with 18 weapons, to include wire guided, wake home torpedoes; or up to 24 mines; man-launched anti-aircraft missiles; 636M: 18+ weapons; CLUB-S/CLUB-N anti-ship missiles





Dive Depth:





The PLAN acquired two Project 636 KILOs, delivered in 1998 and 1999. The 636 incorporates significant improvements in quieting, to include elastic drive shaft couplings, a slower RPM skew-back seven-bladed propeller, and new sonar designed to monitor hull and propeller-generated noise.[29] The 636 is said to be almost as quiet as the U.S. Improved 688 class SSN.[30] This version is also slightly larger, faster and has a greater range than its predecessor.

A contract to purchase at least eight more KILOs was signed in May 2002.[31] To ensure their delivery by 2005-2006, this batch of 636 KILOs will be built in three Russian yards: five will be built at the Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg, one at Krasnoye Sormovo shipyards in Nizhny Novgorod and two in Severodvinsk. In mid-2002 the decision to shift two KILOs from the Komsomolsk-na-Amur to Severdovinsk was criticized because the latter had not build diesel-electric submarines for 40 years.[32] But by mid- 2003, KILO construction was underway at Severodvinsk.[33] The decision to purchase the second batch of KILOs may demonstrate dissatisfaction with the capability or building pace of the indigenous Type 039 conventional submarine, or a political desire to visibly exceed the 2001 U.S. decision to sell eight new conventional submarines to Taiwan. Given the political and funding controversies surrounding Taiwan's submarine plans in late 2003, it is likely that the PLA will have all its new KILOs many years before Taiwan receives new submarines.[34] In November 2003, a visiting U.S. Navy delegation reportedly told officials in Taipei that at its current pace, Taiwan would not get its eight subs until 2019.[35]


This new batch of KILOs is likely to be an improved model that could include most of the improvements slated for the 636M KILO.[36] Expected improvements in the 636M may include increased missile stowage, an integrated weapon and machinery control system, an ability to launch larger missile salvos, upgraded digital sonar with mine detection capabilities, improved target classification, non hull-penetrating periscope and radar, better batteries and eventually, new fuel cells.[37] Reports noted that the second batch of 8 KILOs will be armed with the CLUB-S anti-ship system. This 220km range anti-ship missile will make the PLA's new KILOs the best-armed submarines in any East Asian navy. Full utilization of the capabilities of the CLUB-S, however, will require that the PLAN KILOs be tied into a larger surveillance and communication net.


Type 039 SONG Class Attack Submarine

Status: prototype delivered in 1995; four improved SONG-A delivered; now in series production in Wuhan and Jiangshan shipyards

Displacement: 2,250tons submerged

Crew: about 60

Powerplant: 4x German designed MTU diesel engines; electric engine; future AIP based on PEM fuel cell technology

Dive Depth: about 300m

Speed: 15kts surface, 22kts submerged

Systems: low frequency, high frequency, flank array sonar (French influenced designs); surface search radar, EW, ESM, digital weapons and machinery control systems

Weapons: 6x 533mm torpedo tubes; wire-guided torpedoes; anti-ship cruise missiles; mines



The 2003 DoD PLA report notes, "The SONG is a blend of Chinese and Western technology and has several key features that point to a major shift in diesel submarine design philosophy."[38] Indeed, the SONG represents the PLA's attempt to replace the 1950s era design Type 035 MING with a modern 1990s level technology submarine. By the end of 2003, the PLAN had built one SONG and about four improved SONG-A diesel-electric submarines.[39] In 1997, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence estimated that the PLAN would have about six SONG submarines by 2005 and close to 10 by 2010.[40] This rate of production may be exceeded now that the SONG is being built in two shipyards, Wuhan and Jiangshan.


However, for a period in the mid to late 1990s, this submarine's future was in doubt as the first Type 039/SONG was reported to have dissatisfied the PLAN, because it was too noisy and it failed to successfully integrate German MTU diesel engines, Israeli electronics, French sonar and (possibly) Russian weapons. While it is not possible to verify this information, a German submarine industry source has noted that Israel played a key role in this unsuccessful submarine's design integration.[41]


Subsequent improved SONG-A submarines, perhaps with Russian help, are reported to have been more successful, especially in reducing radiated noise.[42] Pictures of a new Project 039 released by the PLA in 2001 showed that it lacks the distinctive "step" sail of the first 039. This improves underwater stability. Internet-source pictures of a the SONG-A indicate that it resembles the French AGOSTA-90B class conventional submarine. The first 039 is said to have launched the new YJ-82, very likely a C-802 anti-ship missile modified to be fired from a submarine. It may carry the new C43 PRC-made wire-guided torpedo and the Russian TEST 71 wire guided torpedo.[43] The third SONG is said to have a new weapons control system.[44] To wit, a cut-away model of the SONG-A built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Harbin Technical University indicates extensive use digital systems in the control room, which may also indicate the use more modern automatic combat control systems.


It is likely that future versions of the SONG will feature PLA-developed Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems that will allow this non-nuclear submarine to spend considerably more time underwater than current diesel-electric submarines. The most likely AIP technology to be employed by new SONG variants will be fuel cell technology, to be developed at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, a leading PRC fuel cell technology center since the early 1970s.[45] In 1999 this institute was visited by Jiang Zemin, who was shown the fuel cell systems.[46] An early 2002 Internet report noted that the Dalian Institute had produced a Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) fuel cell that exceeded the performance of the PEM fuel cells Germany intends to use on its new Type 212 submarines.[47] There is substantial cooperation on fuel cell technology between the Dalian Institute, Germany,[48] and with other countries. PEM fuel cells, with an output of 30-40kW on Germany's new Type 212 submarine, allow it to cruise for 420nm at 8kt speed, or a longer range at a slower speed.[49] Other sources note this may confer the ability to remain underwater for 15-17 days,[50] significantly increasing the submarine's tactical flexibility. Germany's newer Type 214 submarine is slated to use more powerful PEM fuel cell with a 120kW output. A second possibility for submarine fuel cell technology transfer is from Russia, which is marketing a liquid oxygen-hydrogen PEM fuel cell AIP system for its latest KILO and newer AMUR submarines.


In early 2004 there were references in the Chinese Internet to a next-generation SSK, the "Type 041."[51] It is possible that this submarine will incorporate even better AIP, combat systems and weapons developed largely in the PRC. But this program would also offer the PLA an opportunity to incorporate new European technologies that may become available should there be a lifting of the EU arms embargo.


Russian Project 956E SOVREMENNIY Missile Destroyer

Status: Two delivered in 2000 and 2001; assigned to East Sea Fleet

Displacement: 7,940 tons

Powerplant: 4x turbopressurized boilers

Performance: 33 kts top speed; 3,920nm range at 18 kts

Crew: 368

Systems: RADAR: 1x MR-700MA Fregat-MA, 3-D, 300km range; Mineral-ME, 450km range, for SSMs; 6x Orekh guidance for SA-N-7, 60km range; Sonar: 1x MG-335 Platina, medium frequency, bow-mounted; EW: 2x Start-1; 2x (Bell Squat); 4x (Foot Ball-B); decoys; electro-optical systems

Armament: SSM: 8x 3M-80 MOSKIT; SAM: 2x SA-N-7 launchers, 48 missiles;GUN: 4x 130mm main gun; CIWS: 4x AK-630m 30mm Gatling gun; 4x 533mm torpedo tubes; 2x RBU-1000 ASW rocket launchers; 1x Ka-28 ASW/Missile guidance helicopter

In 1996 the PLA purchased two 8,400 ton Russian 956E SOVEMENNIY class destroyers that were delivered in 2000 and 2001. These missile destroyers were purchased in response to the PLAN's inability to counter the U.S. deployment of two aircraft carrier battle groups during the PLA's intimidating exercises near Taiwan in March 1996. At the time of their delivery these two ships possessed the most capable anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles in the PLAN. Each ship carries eight Raduga 3M-80 MOSKIT (SS-N-22 SUNBURN) Mach 2.5 speed, 160km range missiles. Navies that do not have AEGIS anti-aircraft defense systems, very advanced close-in defenses, or the means to sink the SOVREMENNIY, have little defense against these missiles. These ships also carry the 32km range SA-N-7 anti-aircraft missile, and one Kamov Ka-28 ASW/missile targeting helicopter. This ship has notable weaknesses, to include its cluttered non-stealthy design, engines that have a poor service reputation and a very low fuel load for its Ka-28, which only permits a scant three missions. It is not known whether the PLA had these shortcomings changed in its first or second batch of SOVREMEMMNIYs.


The SOVREMENNIY was developed in the late 1970s to support the Soviet Navy's goal to protect areas or "bastions" near the Soviet Union for the safe operation of their SSBNs. The ships were designed to counter U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups, in cooperation with, and secondary to, Soviet submarines, land-based attack aircraft and perhaps even land-based missiles. For this purpose the SOVREMENNIY was designed for rapid and offensive missions; to find its target quickly and launch its missiles first. Early versions of the MOSKIT were armed with nuclear warheads. It is possible that the PLAN could so arm its missiles. For the PLAN the SOVREMENNIY adds a much needed long-range strike capability that adds greater credibility to possible counter-U.S. Navy operations. It gives the PLAN a ship that is superior to all of Taiwan's surface warships. The PLA Navy is reported to have fired a MOSKIT missile from a SOVREMENNIY destroyer during at least one naval exercise in late Summer 2001.[52]



Russian Project 956EM SOVREMENNIY Missile Destroyer


Status: Two ordered in 2002 to be delivered by 2006

Displacement: 7,940 tons

Powerplant: 4x turbopressurized boilers

Performance: 33 kts top speed; 3,920nm range at 18 kts

Crew: 368

Systems: RADAR: 1x MR-700MA Fregat-MA; Mineral-ME, 450km range for SSMs; 6x Orekh guidance for SA-N-7/12; Positiv ME1 for KASHTAN; Sonar: 1x MG-335 Platina, medium frequency, bow-mounted; EW: 2x Start-1; 2x (Bell Squat); 4x (Foot Ball-B); decoys; electro-optical systems

Armament: SSM: 8x 3M-80MBE MOSKIT, 200km range; reports of arming w/ YAKHONT, 300km range; SAM: 2x SA-N-7 or SA-N-12 launchers, 48 missiles;GUN: 2x 130mm main gun; CIWS: 2x KASHTAN 30mm Gatling gun/missile; 4x 533mm torpedo tubes; 2x RBU-1000 ASW rocket launchers; 1x Ka-28 ASW/Missile guidance helicopter














As a follow up to the purchase of the first two Russian Project 956E destroyers, in early January 2002 the PLAN signed a $1.4 billion contract to purchase two more advanced Project 956EM SOVREMENNIY class destroyers to be delivered by 2006.[53] This contract, however, quickly became mired in controversy when the main contractor was shifted from the Severnaya Verf shipyard, which built the first two, to the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard in St. Petersburg, which is building the stealthy Project 17 frigates for India.[54] This switch was protested by the PRC, which was concerned about delays in delivery. Further reporting noted scandalous dealings in which the Severnaya Verf yard had access to two Russian Navy SOVREMENNIY destroyers to obtain parts for the two new destroyers for the PLA.[55] By August 2003 it was reported that the controversy between the two yards had been settled in favor of Severnaya Verf.[56] Because of the controversy there are doubts that the ships will be delivered on time.


At first the two new Project 956EMs were thought to be highly modified versions of the 956E SOVREMENNIYs.[57] It was concluded by some analysts that they would incorporate new stealth features, similar to the Project 17 frigates being built for India,[58] but subsequent reporting has discounted this possibility.[59] The 956EMs were also expected to incorporate new Russian sensors and weapons. Originally it was reported that Russia proposed to arm these two new SOVREMENNIYs with 12 new smaller vertical launched missiles, to include the supersonic 300km range YAKHONT or the Novator CLUB system.[60] However, it was reported subsequently that the 956EM would be armed with a new 200km range version of the Moskit developed especially for the PLA, designated the 3M-80MBE.[61] It remains possible, however, that the removed stern-mounted 130mm gun may be replaced by new missiles, like the YAKHONT. The 956EM will carry one Ka-28 ASW/Missile guidance helicopter.








Possible Interest in Project 1164 SLAVA Class Attack Cruiser

Status: Reports in 2002 of Chinese interest in buying a SLAVA cruiser from the Ukraine

Displacement: 11,490 tons full load

Powerplant: 6x gas turbine engines

Performance: 32kts top speed; 7,500 miles at 15kts

Crew: 454

Systems: RADAR: Top Sail, Top Plate; Front Door (for SS-N-12); Top Dome (for RIF-M)

Armament: SSM: 16x SS-N-12, 550km range; SAM: 64x SA-N-6 (RIF-M); 40x SA-N-4 (KLINOK); GUN: 2x 130mm; CIWS: 6x AK-650 30mm gatling; 10x 533mm torpedo tubes; 1x Ka-27 ASW/ Missile guidance helicopter


In November 2002 the Ukrainian press reported possible interest by the PRC in buying the Ukrainian Navy's single and then 95 percent completed SLAVA-class cruiser Ukraina. Sale of the ship reportedly was advanced during a November 2002 visit to Beijing by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who discussed the idea with then PRC Defense Minister Chi Haotian.[62] This likely indicates more interest on the part of Ukraine in selling its cruiser to the PRC. Since Kuchma's visit, however, there have been no subsequent reports that the deal is advancing. If it were to buy the ship, the PLA would have to pay for its completion. A Russian Navy Far East Fleet SLAVA visited the PRC in late 1999.


Acquisition by the PLA Navy of a SLAVA class cruiser would add a very potent new surface attack and air defense capability. The large size of this cruiser would additionally serve to raise the profile of the PLA in Asia, and regional fears of its growth. In a sense, the SLAVA is the surface analogue to the OSCAR class SSGN and the non-nuclear powered compliment to the nuclear-powered KIROV class cruiser. These, along with long-range bombers, formed the late Soviet Navy's triad of anti-U.S. carrier forces. The SLAVA would also be useful to PLA Naval forces in that its RIF-M anti-aircraft system is the naval version of the very effective S-300 land-based SAM system. But like the SOVREMENNIY, the SLAVA was designed for a "shoot first" doctrine which could be destabilizing. As a large unstealthy ship, it would be easy for U.S. forces to find and attack. Its SS-N-12 missiles have a high flight profile which eases detection by U.S. ship defenses, but then dives down fast which complicates interception. A PLAN SLAVA class cruiser would present a significant threat to the U.S. and its allies Asian navies, in addition to the possibility of using its missiles to attack land targets.

Interests in the Russian Project 12421 MOLNIYA Class Fast Attack Craft

Status: Reports of PLA interest in acquiring many MOLNIYA class fast attack craft

Displacement: 550 tons

Powerplant: 2x gas turbine engines

Performance: 37 kts maximum; 2,400km range at 12 kts

Crew: 44

Systems: RADAR: Mineral-ME (Band Stand)

Armament: SSM: 4x MOSKIT anti-ship missiles; SAM: Igla man-launched missile; CIWS: 2x AK-630 30mm gatling gun; GUN: 1x 76mm automatic


A smaller MOSKIT missile-armed ship that may interest the PLA is the Project 12421 MOLNIYA fast attack craft. Reports have surfaced in previous years, and then again in November 2003,[63] that the PLA is interested in buying a significant number of these fast attack craft. Such news should be balanced by reports that the PLA is also building a large number, perhaps 20, of a new indigenous missile-armed fast attack craft.[64] But were it to buy the MOLNIYA the PLA's ability to impose a naval blockade on Taiwan would increase dramatically, as would the PLA's ability to mass deadly supersonic attack missiles against U.S. Navy forces that would seek to assist Taiwan. The MOLNIYA would be useful in the shallow areas of the South China Sea; Vietnam is reported to be buying four of these ships.[65]


The largest development of the Russian TARANTUL series of fast attack craft, the MOLNIYA is designed to operate in concert with many other fast attack craft, or ships, submarines and aircraft, to mass a large number of anti-ship missiles against an opposing naval force. While Russia is now marketing cleaner and stealthier fast attack craft, the PLA would be interested in the MOLNIYA because it has been in production (over 25 built) and it is armed with the deadly and familiar MOSKIT missile. As a small ship its ability to fight effectively decreases in poor weather and its endurance is limited. But these limitations are balanced by its cheaper cost and its ability to conform with established PLA Navy doctrine which has long stressed the use of large numbers of fast attack craft. With the MOLNIYA platform, however, this doctrine can be expanded to exploit the greater range of the ship and its missiles, and the ability of the missiles to be cued by satellite, airborne, ship or submarine systems.

Russian Systems for No. 168 Class Air Defense Destroyer

Status: Two launched in 2002; uses extensive Russian weapons and systems; may go to South Sea Fleet

Displacement: 5,000 to 6,000 tons

Powerplant: 2x Ukrainian DN-80 gas turbines, 2x German MTU diesel engines

Performance: 30+ kts top speed, (est.)

Crew: 200-300 (est.)

Systems: RADAR: Russian Fregat M2-EM (Top Plate B) 3D search radar, 300km range; Mineral-ME, 450km range for SSMs; 4x Front Dome to guide SA-N-12, 60km range; 1x target cuing radar for CIWS; EW/ELINT; 2x satcom

Armament: SSM: unknown but likely long range missile; SAM: SA-N-12, 2x launchers, up to 48 missiles (est.), 42km range; GUN: 1x 100mm automatic; CIWS: 2x Type 730 30mm gatling; 4x 18-barrel rocket launchers, possible anti-torpedo; 1x ASW/Missile guidance helicopter, Ka-28 possible



Early in this decade the PLA demonstrated that it can significantly improve its ability to produce world-class combat ships by launching two similar modern air-defense destroyers. In doing so the PLA has made great progress in fulfilling a long-standing need in its Navy for dedicated air-defense ships. In late 2001, sources in Taiwan noted that the PLAN would build a new destroyer-size ship in two versions, for air defense and anti-submarine warfare. [66] In early 2002 reports indicated that the PLAN was building two new destroyers in Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai, where two LUHU destroyers were built.[67] One source noted these new ships will be based on the LUHAI design and displace between 5,000 and 6,000 tons.[68] In late May 2002 the first of these destroyers was launched, No. 168, and the second, No. 169, was launched in August 2002.


These ships feature greatly improved stealth shaping over the single No. 167 LUHAI destroyer. Their degree of stealth shaping does not match that of the proposed future U.S. DDX destroyers, but in some respects is better than the U.S. BURKE class destroyer, and approaches that of the Russian Project 17 Talwar class frigate and other current European stealthy designs. That Russia is selling production technology for the Talwar to India at a minimum raises the potential for similar naval stealth technology having been sold to the PLA. Both new classes of PLA destroyers also use Ukrainian DN-80 gas turbine engines for high speeds and German MTU diesel engines for cruising.[69]


By early 2003 it was possible to determine from Internet-based reporting that the 168 class made extensive use of Russian weapon and sensor components. Internet-sourced pictures revealed that their armament would consist of the Russian SA-N-12 surface-to-air missile, a new 100mm main gun, the new Type 730 30mm Gatling gun CIWS, and an ASW helicopter.[70] In late April 2003 Internet-sourced photos of No. 168 showed a new radar dome atop the bridge similar to the BAND STAND over-the-horizon targeting radar on the SOVREMENNIY. This indicates that the destroyer will be equipped with a long-range over-the-horizon anti-ship missile. Possible candidates would be the C-803, the Russian CLUB-N, or the Russian Kh-35. The inclusion of the BAND STAND radar had led to some speculation that the new missile would be the Raduga MOSKIT, but that missile is too large to be placed in ship's current anti-ship missile racks. The 168 may also be equipped with a new low-frequency bow sonar, giving it a far better ASW capability than previous PLAN ships. With a clear anti-air capability and a possible new level of ASW capability, the No. 168 class will give the PLA Navy a similar capability to Taiwan's new U.S. KIDD class destroyers, very likely before the KIDDs are integrated into the Taiwan Navy.[71]


No. 170 Class Air Defense Destroyer

Status: Two launched in 2003; may use some Russian components; may go to South Sea Fleet

Displacement: 6,000-7,000 tons est.

Powerplant: 2x Ukrainian DN-80 gas turbine engines, 2x German MTU diesel engines

Performance: 30+ kts maximum speed

Crew: 200-300 est.

Systems: RADAR: new phased array system, w/ possible Ukrainian assistance; new meter-wave radar; Mineral-ME 450km range for SSMs; 1x CIWS cueing radar; EW/ELINT systems; 2x satcom links

Armament: SSM: 8x new long-range anti-ship cruise missile; SAM: 48x new vertical-launch anti-aircraft missile, Russian or new indigenous design; GUN: 1x 100mm automatic; CIWS: 2x Type 730 30mm Gatling; 1x ASW/Missile guidance helo, Ka-28 possible


In early 2003 the first photos emerged from the Shanghai Jiangnan yards of an even more ambitions warship, clearly equipped with four arrays for phased-array radar arrays, similar in style to the U.S. BURKE and the Japanese KONGO class AEGIS warships. This ship, designated No. 170, was launched on April 29, 2003. A second ship, No. 171, was launched on October 30, 2003. The No. 170 adds a far more powerful dimension to PLAN surface task groups in that it will be able to give modern defensive cover to other long-range SSM armed ships and aircraft, allowing them to achieve greater closure with other modern naval forces. For a Taiwan blockade mission, the two 170 class ships could serve as radar picket and command-control platforms stationed at either end of the Taiwan Strait. It will also allow the PLAN to provide escort for future capital ships like aircraft carriers.


No. 170 is estimated to weigh 6,000 to 7,000 tons and is similar in layout to the No. 168 class, sharing the same engine and propulsion systems. Recent reports indicate this radar may be a co-development program with the Kvant-Radiolokatsiya company of the Ukraine.[72] The band and performance of this radar have not yet been publicly reported. The radar may be a developed version of that first seen on the No. 970 weapons development ship, and could either be S-Band or Russian-style X-Band. At first the SAM was thought to be the 90km range Russian Altair Bureau's "Rif" naval SAM system, which was reported to have been purchased in 2002.[73] However, it is judged that the SAM containers are too small to accommodate the RIF-which may yet be seen on an additional new PLA Navy destroyer. In contrast to Russian ships, however, the 170 uses a non-rotary, or fixed vertical launch system for its SAMs. Both, however use a "cold-launch" system that ejects the missile before motor ignition, which increases safety in the event of a misfire, and decreases motor damage to the ship structure.


It is possible that the 170's SAM could be either a new smaller Russian missile derived from their S-400 system or a new PLA SAM that is either indigenous or which uses Russian components. For example, this new naval SAM could mirror the cooperation between the Agat Bureau and the Louyang Company on the Project 129 AAM. In addition, the 170 carries 2x Type 730 CIWS, and launch rails for 8x surface-to-surface missiles, which are the same size as the launch rails on the 168, indicating they may be the same missile. There is a helicopter hanger that is large enough to accommodate a single Kamov Ka-28 ASW/Missile guidance helicopter.


European and Russian Systems for the Type 054 Frigate


Status: Now in series production in shipyards in Shanghai and Guangzhou

Displacement: 3,000 tons (est.)

Engines: 4x Licence-built French-designed SEMT-Pielstick PA6 STC diesel engines

Performance: 25-30kts maximum speed


Systems: RADAR: new search and target acquisition radar; SONAR: medium frequency sonar; EW/ELINT

Armament: SSM: new anti-ship cruise missile; SAM: unknown new SAM; GUN: 1x 100mm automatic; CIWS: 4x 30mm gatling similar to Russian AK-630; 2x 18-barrel anti-torpedo rocket launcher; possible ASW torpedoes; one Ka-28 ASW/Missile guidance helicopter










In early 2003 Chinese Internet sources revealed a model for new design frigate to succeed the PLA Navy's JIANGWEI class series. In a rare instance of such reporting bearing truth, by early Spring it was possible to view a frigate of the same design under construction at the Hongdu Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai. This frigate, No, 525, was launched on September 11, 2003. The Type 054 is also being built in the Huangpu shipyard in Guangzhou, which launched its first ship, No. 526, was launched on November 30, 2003. The Hongdu shipyard features conventional ship construction techniques in which the ship is gradually built-up. But the Huangpu yard uses very modern techniques in which the ship is built from pre-fabricated components in a large covered building, and transferred in a dry dock to be floated in deeper part of the local bay.


This frigate does not yet have a formal PLA designation but it has been dubbed the "Type 054" by several sources. This frigate uses a high degree of stealth shaping that approaches the level used by the French LAFAYETTE class frigates sold to Taiwan. While PLA Navy design bureaus are able to produce such designs, it is also possible that France gave the PLA data related to French stealth designs as part of its larger payoffs to PRC officials to avoid political fallout from its sale to Taiwan, as revealed in Taiwanese investigations.[74] Russia is another possible source of technology assistance in naval stealth shaping.


One stealth concession made by this PLA ship is that it has a higher bow to improve sea-keeping, which has a consequence of reducing stealth slightly.[75] And while the new stealth shape, and presumably, improved combat control systems, would improve warfighting capabilities, it is not yet clear that the armament outfit for the Type 054 will convey a radically improved capability over the JIANGWEI. The previously mentioned model showed the new ship armed with the same HQ-7 SAM of the JIANGWEI II. The Type 054 launched at Huangpu showed, like the JIANGWEIs, it was equipped with a medium-frequency sonar, which is more suited for active-search in the shallow areas around Taiwan. A larger low-frequency sonar is preferred for passive search in deep oceans. One clear improved capability indicated by the model is that the Type 054 will be equipped with the Russian Kamov Ka-28 ASW/Missile guidance helicopter. It is also equipped with CIWS systems similar to the Russian AK-630, which may indicate this system is under license production in the PRC.


Other significant foreign content for Type 054 includes the engines. In April 2002 the French but German-owned company SEMT Pielstick announced on its web page, "8 x 16 PA6 STC engines will equip the two (2) first frigates of a new generation to be built in Shanghai.The 16 cyl. PA6 STC will be manufactured under a license agreement by Shaanxi Diesel Engine Works."[76] It can be concluded that the Type 054 will be powered by these French-designed diesel engines.






Russian FEDKO Class Underway Replenishment Ship

Status: One delivered to PLA Navy in 1993

Displacement: 37,000 tons

Powerplant: 3x diesel engines

Performance: 16 kts maximum speed

Crew: 125

Systems: One solid transfer station and two liquid transfer stations; one helicopter for store transfer

Armament: CARGO: 23,000 tons of liquid or solid stores; GUNS: three anti-aircraft gun mounts


Taking advantage of rapidly warming relations in the early 1990s, in 1992, the PRC purchased the newly built underway replenishment ship (AOR) Vladimir Peregudov, then renamed, Nancang. Delivered in 1993, it has since been the most modern AOR in the PLA Navy and has been the principal AOR used by the PLA Navy in the conduct of its recent world-wide program of naval diplomacy. When purchased it only increased the total number of AORs in the PLA Navy to three. At that time this was interpreted as indicative of a lack of ambition to project naval power.


French-designed engines for new No. 886 Class Underway Replenishment ships


Status: One launched in 2003, one building

Displacement: 22,000 tons

Powerplant: 2x license-produced SEMT-Pielstick diesel engines

Performance: 19 kts sustained speed; 10,000 nm range at 15kts


Systems: 2x solid transfer station and 2x liquid transfer stations; one helicopter for store transfer

Armament: CARGO (est.): 10,400 tons of fuel; 250 tons fresh water; 70 tons lube oil, 680 tons dry cargo or solid stores; GUNS: 4x twin 37mm anti-aircraft guns mounts










In 2003, the PLA launched a newly designed AOR based on the Similan AOR built by the PRC for the Royal Thai Navy in 1995. AOR No. 886 was launched on March 29, 2003,[77] and a second is reported building.[78] At 22,000 tons full load, it is comparable to the smaller French DURANCE class AOR. Regarding foreign content, the No. 886 class is powered by two license-built French-designed SEMT-Pielstick 12,000 brake-horsepower diesel engines.[79] With two new No. 886 class AORs, that will bring to five the total number of PLA Navy underway supply ships. Again, this is a small number compared to the U.S. Navy's inventory, which relies on its large supply ship fleet to sustain global power projection capabilities for its combat fleet. But for a blockade mission focused on Taiwan, factoring in the ability to return to port often for new supplies, a smaller number of AORs may be able to sustain two groups of modern naval combatants intended to block the main approaches to Taiwan for weeks at a time.

Russian Raduga MOSKIT Supersonic Anti Ship Missile

Status: 3M-80E version in service on 2x Sovremenniy destroyers; 3M-80MBE version said to arm 2x more Sovremenniy destroyers

Weight: 3M-80E: 4,150kg

Powerplant: Solid fuel booster and ramjet sustaining engine

Guidance: active radar, home on jamming

Performance: SPEED: M 2.3 max speed; RANGE: 3M-80E, 120-150km; 3M-80MBE, 200km

Warhead: 300kg penetrating warhead with 150kg high explosives

Raduga's 3M-80E MOSKIT is today the most powerful anti-ship missile in the PLA Navy. The extended range 3M-80E version now equips the two SOVREMENNIY destroyers, No. 136 and No. 137, now stationed with the East Sea Fleet. It is reported that a new version developed especially for the PLA, the 200km range 3M-80MBE, will equip the next two SOVREMENNIY destroyers due to be transferred to the PLA by 2005-2006.[80] The MOSKIT is feared because it combines high Mach-2 speeds with multi-mode guidance, and a large 300kg warhead. It is made more deadly by its ability to perform 15g evasive "S" maneuvers just before target impact in order to evade defensive close-in weapon systems (CIWS).[81] Its large size, however, means that it can only be used by surface ships and aircraft.


The PLA's funding of a new longer-range version for the second batch of SOVREMENNIY destroyers raises the prospect that the first two will be back fitted with the 3M-80MBE. Taiwan's ship defenses based on early models of the U.S. PHALANX 20mm Gatling gun may not be sufficient to defend against MOSKIT missiles. In the late 1980s, Taiwanese sources noted that their PHALANX systems might hit a MOSKIT once or twice, but that the resulting missile pieces would still cause great harm. As such, on the Taiwan Strait the PLA's deployment of the MOSKIT is destabilizing in the sense that it forces Taiwan to adopt an offensive strategy against the PLA.

Russian Novator CLUB-S Anti-Ship Missile Complex

Status: reported to arm the PLA Navy's eight new KILO class submarines

Weight: 3M54E: 2,300kg; 3M54E1: 1,780kg

Powerplant: 3M54E: turbojet first stage, rocket engine second stage; 3M54E1: turbojet engine

Guidance: Radar MMS ARGS-54 active radar seeker, 65km maximum range

Performance: 3M54E: subsonic first stage, Mach 3 second stage, 220km range, 20km second stage; 3M54E1: subsonic speed, 300km range

Warhead: 3M54E: 200kg; 3M54E1: 400kg

Russian reports in 2002, mainly in connection with the second order for eight new KILO submarines, mentioned that the new submarines would be armed with the CLUB-S anti-ship missile system.[82] Products of the secretive Novator bureau, these two anti-ship missiles comprise the CLUB-S (for submarines) and CLUB-N (for surface ships)[83] complexes were revealed to the West for the first time at the 1992 Moscow Airshow, when they were put on display briefly for a visiting PLA delegation.[84] The two anti-ship missiles are derived from Novator's 3K14 Granat sub-launched cruise missile, which is similar to the U.S. TOMAHAWK cruise missile. The 3M54E1 most resembles the Granat and the TOMAHAWK, but is smaller and has only a 300km range. The 3M54E (NATO code name SS-N-27 SIZZLER) however, is radically different. While using the subsonic first stage of the 3M54E1, it also incorporates a rocket-propelled second stage which is released 20-60km from the target. This second stage then accelerates to Mach 3 to defeat ship defenses. Both missiles in the CLUB complex use a common active radar guidance system and both fly a low-altitude sea-skimming mission profile.[85] Should it equip its second batch of eight KILO submarines, the CLUB-S system would give the PLAN yet another missile with which to saturate the defenses of opposing naval forces. Full usage of the CLUB-S will require off-board targeting information, but the PLA is working on multiple programs to provide such data to all naval strike forces.


Russian NPO Mashinostroyenia 3N55 ONIKS/YAKHONT Anti-Ship Missile

Status: Sale to PLA is reported but not confirmed

Weight: 3,000kg

Powerplant: Rocket booster and liquid-fuel ramjet sustainer engine

Guidance: Passive/active radar seeker

Performance: SPEED: M 2.5; RANGE: 300km, hi-level trajectory; 120km, low-level trajectory

Warhead: 200kg








Reports from Taiwanese military sources,[86] and from a diplomatic source interviewed at the 2002 Zhuhai Airshow[87] note that the PLA intends to purchase the NPO Machinostroyenia 3N55 YAKHONT supersonic anti-ship missile. This purchase is associated with the purchase of the second batch of Project 956EM SOVREMENNIY destroyers, but there appears to be some conflict over whether the YAKHONT will indeed be purchased for these ships. Sale of the YAKHONT is complicated by the potential objections from India, which is co-producing this missile as the BRAHMOS in a high profile program with NPO Mashinostroyenia. Nevertheless, should the PLA purchase this missile, it will obtain a system that was intended to be the successor to the Raduga MOSKIT, and indeed, is a much more useful system. The YAKHONT is designed to be fired from ship, submarine, air and land-based platforms. Its smaller size means that more can be carried in the space allocated to the MOSKIT. It can be backfitted to submarines like the KILO by inserting a new hull plug. In contrast, the Novator missiles do not require such expensive modifications for the submarine, but they operate at subsonic speeds and thus are more vulnerable to interception.







Russian Naval Surface-to-Air Missiles and Technology

Shtil-1 (SA-N-7)

Status: In service on 2x PLAN SOVREMENIY destroyers

Weight: 715kg Warhead: 50-70kg

Powerplant: Solid Rocket Speed: 850 m/s (M 3) Range: 25-32km

Guidance: FRONT DOME radar, 60km range; semi-active missile radar and infrared homing



Status: Arms 2x No. 168 class destroyers and may arm 2x new PLAN SOVREMENNIY destroyers

Weight: 715kg Warhead: 50-70kg

Powerplant: Solid rocket Speed: 1,200 m/s (M 4)