Great Wall No. 201 / Type 032 Qing-class test submarine
China's PLA Navy has recently constructed the world's largest conventional submarine. The Type 032 was initially called the Type 043 by some sources, creating some confusion. Some reports claimed that the Type 032 submarine may be a cause for concern as a general purpose submarine, not only responsible for testing JL-2 ICBMs, but the design could also be fitted as an "aircraft carrier killer", carrying anti-ship ballistic missiles. Thus far only one has been built, supporting the test platform interpretation - if more than one appeared, the "aircraft carrier killer" interpretation would begin to gain currency.
With a surfaced displacement of 3,797 tonnes and submerged displacement of 6,628 tonnes, the Qing-class is currently the largest diesel-electric submarine in the world. It is widely reported that before the Type 032, the I-400 of the Imperial Japanese Navy constructed during World War II was the largest diesel-electric submarine ever built. With a surfaced displacement of 5,223 tons, and 6,560 tons submerged, the I-400 was some 400 feet long, much longer than the 300 foot long Type 032 Qing. The Japanese navy built some of the largest submarines in WWII, which were used for transporting vital supplies and reinforcements to outposts outposts located in Allied controlled waters unreachable by surface vessels. Some, like I-400, were designed to carry up to three aircraft and could range as far as 37,000 miles cruising on the surface at 14 knots. With the ability to carry three Aichi M6A1 Seiran sea-planes, the 400 foot long I-400 was designed to launch air attacks against the Panama Canal.
This claim to fame may or may not be true. The Soviet Project 940 "Lenok" India class conventional submarines were 344 feet long, and had a 3,900 tons surfaced displacement [slightly greater than the Type 032], and a 4,800-6,840 tons submerged displacement [the upper range is slightly greater than the Type 032]. Equipped with two deep submergence rescue vehicles (DSRV), the India class submarine was designed to locate submarines in distress and to rescue the distressed submarines crew. The India was fitted with medical facilities and decompression chambers that allow the submarine to treat several dozen individuals at a time. Both units are no longer be operational, having been placed in reserve around 1990 and scrapped in 1995.
The new submarine was notable for a large sail and under-hull extension that were believed to be designed to enable China to test new submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Recent images appears to confirm the submarine is a replacement for the long-serving Type 031, a former Soviet Project 629 'Golf'-class conventional missile submarine (SSB) built in China in the mid-1960s. The Type 031 submarine had underwater displacement of 2,950 tons, and was mainly responsible for testing new missiles. The Type 031 wss involved in JL-1 and JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile test launches, but eventually it was too long time of service, with the hull aging, and could not meet the requirements of the new missile tests. Compared to the older Type 031 Golf SSB, the new Type 032 submarines in the structure and performance have a lot of improvements. The submarine can supply the standard crew of 85 people for 30 days and nights in the underwater navigation. To meet test needs, the submarine can accommodate up to 200 crew and researchers.
The development of the submarine began in January 2005, construction started in January 2008, and the boat was completed in September 2010. The country's latest conventional missile submarine (SSB) was first seen at the Wuhan Shipyard in September 2010. In September 2012 the boat completed sea trials. It entered service with the PLA Navy on 16 October 2012 and was ready to conduct weapons tests in 2013.
China's Type 032 will be able to launch various weapons including the JL-2A submarine-launched ballistic missile [from tubes in the sail] and CJ-20A cruise missiles and the YJ-18 anti-ship missile from tubes in the hull forward of the sail. In addition to weapons systems, the 032-type submarines is also responsible for testing China's latest technology. For example, it is China's first installation with integral submarine escape pod, a device used extensively in the Russian nuclear submarines. This pod can improve the submarine crew self-help capacity to ensure the safety of personnel during an emergency. The submarine can carry about 50 special forces personnel, the use of special operations or underwater unmanned underwater vehicle submerged secrets to perform short-range combat missions. US Navy nuclear submarine equipped with special forces adopt such tactics in the war on terror repeatedly perform penetration missions. So, while reports concluded that although 032 submarine is mainly responsible for the current test task, but it has adapted to the potential of multi-mission platform.
One Chinese expert [Wu Xie, A Basic Analysis of SSBN Design Plans, Ordnance Knowledge, 4, no. 198 (April 2004), p. 53] identifies bathymetry as influencing SSBN development and deployment. He suggests that countries with shallow coastal waters on a continental shelf (such as China) face strong incentives to develop smaller SSBNs in order to better operate in local conditions. if more than one boat of this class appears, it may represent a Chinese approach to SSB survivablity centered on basing a relatively large number of relatively small submarines in bastions in home waters which can be defended by sur face and shore based forces.
"Jane's Defense Weekly" published an article saying that according to photos appearing on the Chinese Internet, the PLA's only 032 type conventional power ballistic missile submarine had been modified and may be used to test a new ballistic missile. The article pointed out that the photo was taken in July 2017. The picture shows that the submarine is docked at the Liaonan Shipyard near Dalian, adjacent to the Lushun Naval Base, and the rear of the submarine sail is raised, which is likely in order to accommodate longer submarine-launched ballistic missile launch tubes. From the visual point of view, its command tower enclosure height was about 1 meter, indicating that the PLA is likely to test the "Julang-3". According to speculation, the recent transformation of the Type 032 submarine was to test the next generation of "Julang-3" submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which are expected to be equipped on the next generation of Type 096 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.
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