2.4 NAVY SYSTEMS
Russian Assistance for the Type 093 Nuclear Attack
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
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.
Rubin assistance is reported to include new hull coatings to reduce radiated
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,
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."
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,
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,
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
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.
Other sources report that eventual production could reach 6 to 8 units.
The first unit was reported to have commenced construction in 1999.
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
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
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
A Chinese source notes the 094 may be quieter than Russia's most advanced SSBN,
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.
This projection is now obsolete, with more recent estimates noting the 094 SSBN
may not be launched until 2008 or after,
and the Pentagon expecting launch "by the end of the decade."
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.
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
Possible Interest In Purchasing Russian OSCAR and AKULA
OSCAR II (Project
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
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). 
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.
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.
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,
which is reported to be matched in the West only by the new U.S. SEAWOLF SSN.
For emergency operations, however, the AKULA II may be able to dive as deep as
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
Displacement: 3,076 tons submerged
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Weight: 3,126 tons submerged
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
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.
The 636 is said to be almost as quiet as the U.S. Improved 688 class SSN.
This version is also slightly larger, faster and has a greater range than its
A contract to purchase at least
eight more KILOs was signed in May 2002.
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.
But by mid- 2003, KILO construction was underway at Severodvinsk.
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.
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.
This new batch of KILOs is likely to be an
improved model that could include most of the improvements slated for the 636M
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.
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."
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
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.
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
Subsequent improved SONG-A submarines, perhaps
with Russian help, are reported to have been more successful, especially in
reducing radiated noise.
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.
The third SONG is said to have a new weapons control system.
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.
In 1999 this institute was visited by Jiang Zemin, who was shown the fuel cell
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.
There is substantial cooperation on fuel cell technology between the Dalian
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.
Other sources note this may confer the ability to remain underwater for 15-17
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."
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
Displacement: 7,940 tons
Powerplant: 4x turbopressurized boilers
Performance: 33 kts top speed; 3,920nm range at 18 kts
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
By August 2003 it was reported that the controversy between the two yards had
been settled in favor of Severnaya Verf.
Because of the controversy there are doubts that the ships will be delivered on
At first the two new Project 956EMs
were thought to be highly modified versions of the 956E SOVREMENNIYs.
It was concluded by some analysts that they would incorporate new stealth
features, similar to the Project 17 frigates being built for India,
but subsequent reporting has discounted this possibility.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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.
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
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
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. 
In early 2002 reports indicated that the PLAN was building two new destroyers
in Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai, where two LUHU destroyers were built.
One source noted these new ships will be based on the LUHAI design and displace
between 5,000 and 6,000 tons.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Russia is another possible source of technology assistance in naval stealth
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.
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
It can be concluded that the Type 054 will be powered by these French-designed
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
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
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,
and a second is reported building.
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
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;
Warhead: 300kg penetrating warhead with 150kg high
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.
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).
Its large size, however, means that it can only be used by surface ships and
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
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
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.
Products of the secretive Novator bureau, these two anti-ship missiles
comprise the CLUB-S (for submarines) and CLUB-N (for surface ships)
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.
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.
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
Status: Sale to PLA is reported but not confirmed
Powerplant: Rocket booster and liquid-fuel ramjet sustainer
Guidance: Passive/active radar seeker
Performance: SPEED: M 2.5; RANGE: 300km, hi-level trajectory; 120km,
Reports from Taiwanese military sources,
and from a diplomatic source interviewed at the 2002 Zhuhai Airshow
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
Russian Naval Surface-to-Air Missiles and Technology
Status: In service on 2x PLAN SOVREMENIY destroyers
Weight: 715kg Warhead: 50-70kg
Powerplant: Solid Rocket Speed: 850 m/s (M 3)
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