Shipbuilders in China have manufactured three new advanced nuclear-powered attack submarines with vertical launching systems capable of firing supersonic anti-ship missiles, the China Daily reports.
Last week, China Central Television (CCTV) broadcasted satellite images which reportedly reveal these three newly manufactured Chinese submarines that were anchored at an unidentified port.
According to the report, the new submarines displayed in the satellite image are China’s latest and most advanced Type-093G nuclear-powered attack submarines, which have just been completed by a Chinese shipyard and are ready to be delivered to the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army.
The new Type-093G is an advanced version of the Type-093, China’s second-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine, and has a longer hull to accommodate for the vertical launch system, the report said.
According to the website of the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Type-093G’s wing-shaped cross-section is designed to improve speed and mobility as well as reduce noise, and that the vertical launcher is capable of delivering the country’s latest YJ-18 supersonic anti-ship missile.
The advanced missile can reportedly carry a 300-kilogram warhead to a range over 200 kilometers and is capable of performing maneuvers at speeds of up to Mach 3 just before hitting its target, the PLA Navy’s website said.
China had first established its nuclear-powered submarine force in the early 1970’s but had never shown it to the outside world until 2009, when two nuclear submarines took part in a parade marking the 60th anniversary of the PLA navy’s founding.
“Though China was comparatively late in developing advanced nuclear-powered submarines such as the Type-093G, we used a lot of the most cutting-edge technologies and equipment on our submarines, enabling them to compete with their foreign counterparts,” said Cui Yiliang, editor-in-chief of Modern Ships magazine.
“Judging from the vessel’s design, the Type-093G should have strong anti-ship and counter-submarine capabilities,” said Yin Zhuo, a senior expert with the navy. “It is also likely to be upgraded with the capability of striking land targets with cruise missiles in the near future.”
Liu Jiangping, an expert in naval equipment in Beijing who had served in the PLA navy for decades, said that the submarine’s vertical launching system enables the launch of long-distance strikes from underwater, increasing the vessel’s survivability in war.
The strategic force of the PLA navy now has about four nuclear-powered Type-094 ballistic missile submarines, up to six Type-093 nuclear-powered attack submarines and about three old Type-091 nuclear-powered attack submarines, according to CCTV.
In February, U.S. Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy told a congressional committee that China now had a larger submarine fleet than that United States.
Vice Admiral Mulloy, the deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China is building “some fairly amazing submarines” and their fleet is “growing at a tremendous rate”, and they are carrying out more deployments and broadening their area of operations as part of a rapid military buildup.
“They may not be the same quality, but their submarine forces are growing at a tremendous rate. They now have more diesel and nuclear attack submarines than we have,” the Vice Admiral told lawmakers. “They are producing some fairly amazing submarines and they are actually deploying them.”