Type 093 Shang-class Nuclear Attack Submarine

The new Type 093 Shang-class SSN is thought to be similar in performance to Russian second generation designs such as the Victor III, although it would be incorrect to describe the Chinese submarine as a copy of the Russian Victor III.

In March 2007 Seapower Magazine published an article based on information supplied in December 2006 by the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and subsequently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. According to ONI, open sources suggest that China has launched units of the TYPE 093 SSN class, which is the follow-on to the HAN SSN class, and is currently conducting sea trials for this class. Incorporating foreign technologies as well as indigenous Chinese systems.

The TYPE 093 was expected to be quieter than its predecessor. Furthermore, the TYPE 093 would carry more advanced weapons than the HAN, including ant-ship cruise missiles and more modem torpedoes. China has built these features into the TYPE 093 in an effort to improve the PLAN's ability to conduct anti-surface warfare at greater ranges from the Chinese coast than its diesel submarine force offers.

Erickson and Goldstein wrote "In the broadest terms, it can be said that a successful 093 program will significantly enlarge the scope of Chinese submarine operations, perhaps ultimately serving as the cornerstone of a genuine blue-water navy."

Erickson and Goldstein noted that the 1993 Yin He incident was an important event for crystallizing the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s commitment to a new generation of nuclear attack submarines. Thus, when the Chinese freighter was inspected in Saudi Arabia before proceeding to Iran, the PRC high command was apparently “extremely furious, but had no recourse". At that point, the leadership redoubled its efforts to build a “capable and superior nuclear attack submarine that could protect China’s shipping in distant seas."

In 1994, in compliance with President Jiang’s instructions, the Central Military Commission and its Special Committee adopted a decision to start developing a new generation of nuclear-powered submarines.

A consistent theme in PRC writings concerning SSNs involves their ability to undertake long-range missions of extended duration. Consistent with the analysis above that described the 1993 Yin He incident as lending significant impetus for the 093 program, a recent discussion of China’s nuclear submarine force in Naval and Merchant Ships refers to the enormous growth in China’s maritime trade as a factor in shaping China’s emerging nuclear submarine strategy. Likewise, another article from Modern Ships on PRC submarine strategy suggests, “Submarines are the PLAN’s main long-distance sea force. . . . Protecting China’s sea lines of communication has become an important aspect of maritime security. This is an important new mission for the PLAN." If nuclear submarines can “break through the island chain blockade", they can conduct long-distance operations without hindrance from the enemy’s airborne ASW.

In the 1990s, after the Type-09-I first generation attack submarine construction was completed, researchers in China began to upgrade The 09-I nuclear submarines, and at the same time, also began preparation work for development of a new type of nuclear submarine. The 09-III attack nuclear submarine project began in the late 1990s. THe first boat started construction in December 1998, was completed in 2001, launched into the sea in 2003 for tests. During this time, reports concerning the new 09-III nuclear submarine were frequently seen in international media, but the design and configuration was not seen.

In July 2007 in the military held the "People's Liberation Army New Year Achievement Exhibition", and the 09-III new nuclear submarines were seen in model and photo in the public display. The new generation of nuclear submarines finally officially unveiled. Then President Hu Jintao inspected the new nuclear submarine in the military flag ceremony, proving the first boat of the 09-III new nuclear submarine class was officially serving on combat status. Since then, the 09-III new nuclear submarine has abeen officially open, and dispalyed a high-spirited attitude in front of everyone.

From the published picture, 09-III new attack submarine is still using a water droplet line design, the parallel amidships section length significantly longer than the 09-I type, as the standard elongated water droplet. From a performance perepctive, the elongated water droplet has similar hydrodynamic properties as those of the water droplets, but they avoid the defects such as the water droplets type submarines, the difficulty of building the pressure shells and the difficulty of arranging the equipment in the hull. In the overall layout, 09-III type boat is still using 09-I boat mature and reliable enclosure rudder, cone tail, single-axis single propeller, tail cross rudder form, for the water droplet submarine standard conventional layout.

Type 093 Shang-class Design

The "Expo of National Defense and Armed Forces Achievements since New China's Foundation" was held in Beijing "Chinese People Revolutionary military Museum" in June 2008. Several domestic military equipment types were unveiled to the public, including the Type 093 attack nuclear submarine and Type 05 self-propelled howitzer. The Type 093 nuclear-powered submarine was displayed in a photo of it sailing on the surface, labeled "New Type Nuclear Submarine". The distinctive appearance compared with the Type 091 sub, however, demonstrates that the boat in the photo is the legendary Type 093 nuclear attack submarine.

The SHANG's range and weaponry will give the PLA its first non-nuclear global strike capability. As with the Song SSK, the new submarine incorporates advanced quieting with a hydrodynamically efficient hull form, a single shaft and a highly skewed 7-bladed propeller. The submarine is equipped with torpedoes, antisubmarine warfare missiles, and a submarine-launched antiship cruise missile, possibly a follow-on to the C801, as well as the projected Land Attack Cruise Missile.

Despite the early rumors that the Type 093 was based on the design of the Russian Victor III class nuclear attack submarine, it appears that the two submarines bear no resemblance in appearance. However, it cannot be ruled out that Russian technologies were being incorporated into the Type 093's design. While there is no direct indication of Russian technology transfer to China connected with this program, Beijing's next-generation nuclear submarine programs reflect Russian influence.China's new indigenously produced nuclear attack submarine, the SHANG class, benefits greatly from Russian technology and design - it is armed with both ASCMs and LACMs.

The Type 093 is estimated to be 6,000~7,000t displacement when dived, significantly larger than the 4,100 -4,500tons (surfaced) and 4,500-5,500 (dived) displacement of the earlier Type 091 Han class. As revealed by the submarine model and Modern Ships photograph, the submarine features a water-drop shape hull, with a pair of fin-mounted hydroplanes and four diving planes. The submarine is fitted with sophisticated sonar systems, including bow-mounted sonar and H/SQC-207 flank-mounted sonar. Three flank-mounted sonar arrays are clearly visible on the hull of the submarine.

The Type 093 submarine has six 533mm bow torpedo tubes (4 above, 2 below), and is presumed to be equipped with a range of anti-submarine and anti-surface vessel torpedoes of wire-, acoustic- and wake-homing, based on both Chinese and Russian designs. The torpedo tubes can also be used to launch Chinese indigenous YJ-82 anti-ship missiles. Some reports suggested the capability of launching land-attack cruise missiles (LACM), but this cannot be confirmed.

The most notable change in Type 093 submarine is the disappearance of the control planes on sub's sail. Previously, an unconfirmed blurred image of Type 093 submarine had corroborates the change. The Type 093 sub seems to use bow diving planes like US Navy's Virginia class submarines. PLA Navy has known that a decreased sized sub sail can reduce the noise and resistance force when in underwater maneuver.

Andrew S. Erickson & Lyle J. Goldstein state "the 093’s noise level has been reduced to that of the Russian Akula-class submarine at 110 decibels. He states that the 094’s acoustic signature has been reduced to 120 decibels. According to this report, this is definitely not equal to that of the Ohio class, but is on a par with the Los Angeles. There is no additional information given to evaluate concerning the origins or comparability of these 'data.'".

The Type 093 would be expected to haves a smaller "conning tower" with no space for rudder steering gear. But in the picture, the sub's "conning tower" looks to be higher and larger than before. Besides, the positions of Type 093's sail, rescue buoy and bow antenna are changed, changes which can be compared with the displayed Type 091A model and other previous photos. The photo gives the impression that the sail's position further aft than before, a design change needed bow-diving-plane configuration.

Erickson and Goldstein note that Chinese sources universally recognize that noise reduction is one of the greatest challenges in building an effective nuclear submarine. PRC scientists have long been conducting research concerning the fundamental sources of propeller noise. For instance, experts at China Ship Scientifi c Research Center developed a relatively advanced guide-vane propeller by the late 1990s. This, and the fact that China already has advanced seven-blade propellers with cruciform vortex dissipaters on its indigenous Song-class and imported Kilo-class diesel submarines, suggests that the 093 and 094 will have signifi cantly improved propellers.

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