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Chinese Submarines - Introduction

At present, China has the largest submarine force in Asia, and the growth rate of the submarine force is second to none in the world. According to a report released by the US Naval Intelligence Office in July 2009, China s nuclear submarines are easier to detect because of the greater noise. The conventional diesel-electric submarine has a good mute effect and is difficult to detect.

China ordered five submarines from Germany before the War of Resistance, but failed to deliver the ships due to the outbreak of the war. After the war, the United Kingdom originally agreed to donate two submarines, which were canceled for various reasons. As a weak navy country, China was particularly eager for submarines, hoping to use this asymmetrical force to subvert the naval superiority of big powers. This wish was achieved in 1953 with the assistance of the Soviet eldest brother, and later developed into a large number of troops. On June 24, 1954, the Soviet submarines "C-52" and "C-53" came to Lushun and became "New China 11" and "New China 12".

Including the late 2006 surfacing of SONG-class SS near USS KITTY HAWK, Chinese submarines seem to be operating beyond their familiar operating areas. China claims that its submarines have conducted long-range patrols almost since the inception of the Chinese submarine force. According to Chinese press reports, PLAN submarines have occasionally ventured into the Pacific Ocean and, with some degree of regularity, continue to conduct these "cruises of long duration." Although China has apparently been satisfied with only a handful of these deployments every year, the growing technological capabilities of the PLAN submarine force and China's evolving maritime strategy, which calls for an operational capability beyond the littoral in support of an anti-access mission, create the conditions for Beijing to opt for an increased submarine presence in the Western Pacific Ocean east of the Ryukyu Island chain.

The August 2009 US Office of Naval Intelligence report "The People's Liberation Army Navy: A Modern Navy With Chinese Characteristics" stated "The PLA(N) is currently transitioning from older, less reliable attack submarines like the Romeo SS, Ming SS and Han SSN to the more modern Kilo SS, Yuan SS, Shang SSN and the Type 095 SSN. These more advanced platforms include larger weapons loadouts, better weaponry, improved quieting, and more advanced computer processing. The Song SS, Yuan SS, and Shang SSN are the PLA(N)'s newest indigenous submarines, and the first to be designed to employ the YJ-82 ASCM in addition to the traditional weapons loadout of torpedoes and mines. ... China is further expanding its current force of nuclear attack submarines by adding five advanced Type 095 SSNs to the current inventory of SSNs in the coming years."

PLAN submarines PLAN submarines are assessed to incorporate a wide range of quieting technologies, most of which are imported. China nonetheless desires to develop the capability to produce indigenously quiet submarines. The main submarine quieting technologies are machinery mounts, hull coatings, and propellers. Future PLA Navy submarine designs are expected to incorporate lower propeller rotational rates and more advanced propeller designs, machinery mounts, and hull coatings. China's apparent goal is to design and construct quiet submarines independently of other countries. This effort is evident in China's large investment in research, development and manufacturing.

During the 1990s most PLAN submarines were believed to have obsolete sonar systems based on older analog designs. A limited number of Chinese submarines have more modern digital sonar systems based probably on 1980s Western technology. The Chinese have an extensive research and development infrastructure in shallow-water acoustics and have experience using modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer processing technology. It is likely that current Chinese sonar designs are similar to commercially available Western submarine sonar systems and feature modern COTS processors and displays.

China's maritime strategy is evolving along two paths. First, China is focused on a regional anti-access capability, which is principally applicable in preventing third-party intervention in a Taiwan scenario. Second, China is simultaneously expanding its maritime strategy to include a mission to protect China's growing dependence on maritime commerce for economic development. From China's perspective, the lessons of warfare from the mid to late 1990s -namely, that modem navies such as the USN can conduct warfare at long ranges - expanded the geographic scope of the maritime battlefield. In order to counter long-range cruise missile strikes or carrier-based aviation strikes, the Chinese Navy sought ways to extend its reach beyond the littoral regions in a manner that offered the potential to counter a modem navy's advanced assets. Limitations in air defense capabilities for surface combatants as well as the inherent challenges of anti-submarine warfare compelled the Chinese leadership to focus much of its military modernization effort on the submarine force.

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Page last modified: 28-04-2020 16:12:00 ZULU