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Type 093 Shang-class Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Page last modified: 30-04-2019 17:50:02 ZULU