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China’s Submarine Fleet, Evolution & news


Jan 18, 2009
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A short chronological introduction

To trace the developments of China’s submarines fleet we first have to trace the history of Russian submarines. This is another area where Russia has been so ideologically bound up with ‘socialism’ in the past that it has compromised its present day security by blindly sharing/selling its technology.

Pictured above is a Whiskey class Soviet submarine, designed in the mid 1940s and built between 1940 and 1958. This particular vessel (Sub P112) was sold recently (2011) for US $ 550,000. This article covers only conventional diesel-electric boats.

Early Years

Pre-war Russian submarines spanned vessels varying in displacement from those of a little over 200 tons to over 1,000 tons. Evidence exists to suggest that the Soviet Union and Germany were as early as the Weimar Republic (banned under the Versailles Treaty) co-operating on submarine design and construction.

Between 1929 and 1945 Russia had approx. 270 submarines, most were designed for the Baltic and coastal waters (see Table below).

Thus China’s submarine fleet only began in 1954 with the gift of Soviet vessels. However, before then Russiawas to enjoy a technological boost in 1945 with the surrender of Germanyand the articles in the Potsdam Agreement that gave it access to German technology on land, sea and air.

A single Type XXIII U-Boat was allocated to the Soviet Union under the terms of the Agreement but Russia was well placed to salvage other U-Boatsfrom Baltic and Eastern Europe countries overrun by the Red Army.

Left: Type XXI U-boat (U-2540) sometime after 1945.

Of particular interest to Britain and America and therefore to Russia were the Walter designed U-boats – the Type XXIII and Type XXI known as the Elektroboot U-boats – with their streamlining, higher underwater speeds and long range. Type XXIII and Type XXI were futuristic and even today it would not be unresonable to believe that these craft could have been built 10 or 15 years ago. By enlarging this image (click on picture) it is fascinating to think that these clean and attractive lines were first propounded over 70 years ago.

The latter, Type XXI, could travel submerged for two or three days before recharging batteries (a 5 hours process using a Snorkel). There are more details of U-boat variants can be found at Appendix A below.

Post 1945

At the end of World War II, the Soviets obtained several Type XXIs, from which they were able to obtain certain key technologies. These technologies assisted in the design of the Zuluclass and Whiskey class (NATO codes). Further improvements on the design led to the Romeo class.

The Type XXI and XXIII U-boats revolutionised Russian post-war submarine design. The Type XXI U-boat was almost as fast submerged (13 knots) as it was on the surface (15 knots) and someU-boats designs using the Walther hydrogen peroxide system (an unstable gas), were actually faster submerged than on the surface (15 knots vs 17 knots).

The Romeo class of Soviet diesel-electric submarine (Project 633) can trace its origins and streamlining to the World War II Elektroboot and to the Walter designs (as indeed, can the streamlined USS Nautilus, SSN-571).

Right: Romeo class Soviet Sub and Chinese Type 033

Russia produced 133 Romeo class conventional attack submarines – 29 are still in use but not operationally. ‘Attack submarines’ are designed and deployed to sink other submarines and not merely to target surface ships (eavesdropping is another of their other roles).

Nations that also took delivery of this 1,800 ton class were former Warsaw Pact members and several Middle Eastern countries, e.g. Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Algeria. Approx. 75 of these 1,830 ton Soviet-built subs have been scrapped.

The bulbous nose (bow) seen on the Romeo class pictured above housed the Soviet built Hercules or Tamir-5 high-frequency sonar for active / passive search and attack. Later variants are also fitted with Sintra DUUX 5, a low frequency sonar for passive ranging and intercept. Yet later variants were reported to have had weapon systems removed to accommodate surveillance and electronic intelligence (ELINT) equipment for special reconnaissance missions. [1]

Nuclear Option

Following the 1954 gifts from Russia, Chairman Mao visited Jiangnan shipyard (i.e. Shanghai) in Jan 1956 where the PRC’s very first submarine was being built from a Soviet kit. China would eventually go on to build 21 of these Soviet “Whiskey” class boats which were the predecessors of the Romeo class.

Left: Soviet“Whiskey” class

Soviet “Whiskey”class submarine displaced 1,350 tons submerged, had a range 13,500 nautical miles and so were ideal for the vast distances of the Pacifice. Between 1949 and 1958 a total of 236 Whiskeyclass submarine were built incorporating many variants, e.g. Mark 1 to Mark V. It was succeeded by the Romeo class with a similar range, i.e. 13,500 naut. miles.

The Whiskey class and Romeo class must be seen as the transitional designs – the stop gaps – from World War II technology to the demands made by the Cold War of a nuclear missile strike capability.

It is remarkable to read, in Chinese sourced military and political journals in the late 1950s (and from US / CIA sources), of the apparent interest in nuclear powered ships especially submarines atthis early stage. This can only be a reflection of the progress made by the US Navy (USS Nautilus, SSN-571), and the ambitions of theUSSR.

The suspicion is thatthe first fully submerged circumnavigation of the globe by the atomic powered submarine USS Triton, in May 1960, made have riveted attention to the potential that nuclear propulsion held. (USS Triton maintained a steady submerged speed of 21 knots for nearly three months).

The party line in China appears to be that nuclear propulsion for submarines was adopted as a national priority by Mao himself. This may be true but Mao as a visionary and still a strategist in all things at the age of 63 is stretching credibility (Mao was born in 1893). Two years later, in 1958, an ailing Mao announced the “Great Leap Forward”, anattempt to increase agricultural and industrial production by Stalinist ‘collectives’ but which failed hopelessly and resulted in famines.

Shortly afterwards Mao retired from the post of Chairman of the People’s Republic of China and was replaced as head of state by Liu Shaoqi – though Mao continued to wield political influence e.g. sponsoring the Cultural Revolution.

Ego clash

China’s long march towards naval self-sufficiency and her longer term aim of greater parity with the navies of the West halted when Mao metaphorically burnt China’s bridges with Russiain the Sino-Soviet split. Mao became openly critical of Nikita Khrushchev’s interpretation of the direction of world communism and how socialism should develop in theUSSR.

Personality and the cult of personality was the Achilles heel of China. From the 1960s to the late 1970s China was held back first by the nihilistic behaviour of the Red Guard and then the destruction influence of the ‘Gang of Four’ (circa 1973). Only with the death of Mao (1976) did China gradually return to some semblance of a normal state. [2]

While all this was going on Chinabegan producing Soviet-designedRomeo class submarines in significant quantities between 1965 and the early 1980s. Eventually the PLAN had more than 60 of these boats in service. It has been estimated that more than 100 the Type 033 were built by the PLAN and some exported.

NATO’s codename of Romeo class diesel-electronic submarine was known to the Russia’s as Project 633. They were armed with conventional torpedoes and the transfer of technology to China began in Feb 1959.

Project 629 submarines, known to NATO as Golf class were diesel-electric powered submarine but carried missiles. [3] The illustration below shows the missiles were housed in the conning towr (referred to in american literatire as the ‘sail’), part of the boat

The two submarine types were to be built in Chinaas Type 6633(later known as Type 033) and Type 6631 (later known as Type 031) respectively.

Left: Golf class

To clarify – Type 033 is the Chinese designation and carried torpedoes and Type 031 carried both torpedoes and missiles (Type 6622 / Chinese 033 = Romeo class and 6631 = Golf class, respectively).

Note too how submariens of this era still retained the bow indicating much of their operatinal time could be expected to be spent on the surface. With the advent of nuclear power the beed for a surface ship bow disappears.

Defence source point to Chinese 033 as enhanced Romeo class insofar as the 033 had better sonar and a longer range. Both the 033 and 031 projects suffered from the Sino-Soviet split in as much that although China managed to launch its fistRomeo type sub in 1965 it was not serviceable until 1970.

Left: Artist impression of a Golf class firing a missile

In terms of an offensive platform it is regarded as a ‘noisy’ vessel, of an ageing design, incapable of operating safely in deep water, e.g. Pacific and suitable only for coastal defence and patrol duties. By the end of the 1990s chain has decommissioned all the craft although 4 were sold to North Korea.

The original plan was for the production yards to use Soviet-supplied kits initially, and then gradually increase the indigenous elements untilChinacould build the submarines independently.

Developments in the 1970s
In the 1970s, approximately 20% of China’s defence budget was allocated to naval forces resulting in a dramatic growth in the Navy. The conventional submarine force increased from 35 to 100 boats, but the longer term ambition was still one of a submarine powered by nuclear technology.

The true extent of how daunting this challenge represented only became fully clear to the Chinese when Moscow refused Peking’s specific request to share nuclear propulsion technology. The rejection was made on the grounds that it would be ‘premature’ for the PLAN. A valid point consideringChina’s lack of experience with underwater craft and the deadly accidents caused by bad luck and casualness.​
Notwithstanding this, the rejection was taken as an affront and foreshadowed the imminent souring of Sino-Soviet relations. [4] The 20th century should be remembered (among other things) for the homicidal, sociopathic political leaders it managed to produce. Mao was no different to many others and he “reacted indignantly” to Russia’s refusal saying:

  • “We will have to build nuclear submarines even if it takes us 10,000 years.”
Mao got his way, and a famine-ridden, near-bankrupt country – forced to import grain from Canada and the West – embarked in July 1958 on a voyage into the unknown and the unknowable. Mao got the Politburo to approve an ambitious plan to develop not only SSN submarines, i.e. nuclear-poweredattack submarines, but simultaneously an SLBM system (submarine-launched ballistic missile).

Of the two developments the SLBM is the most threatening because of its capacity to deliver a ‘stand-off’ nuclear warhead launched from a submarine hidden in the oceans.

That said, the danger is less acute today then in Mao’s day. Comparatively speaking, he was a lose cannon (in the same way as the behaviour of North Korea’s leader is today viewed as dangerous). He was quite prepared to kill hundred of millions of his own citizens in an ideological ‘nuclear exchange’ (war) with the US and Russia. If it meant the end of the US and capitalism the price of self-destruction was , in his mind, worth it.

Era of Growth

The 1970s and 1980s saw China build up its Romeo and Ming class submarine fleet. The Ming class (or Type 035), was first commissioned in 1974, and was based on the Romeo class (akaType 033).

To illustrate how one class has superseded another, the Table below traces operational types since 1990. The Ming and Romeoclass, once the most numerous had by 2009 been overtaken by theSong class at 19 boats.

At least 17 Ming classhulls (2,113 tons) are still in service, with the latest versions

adopting modern sonar systems purchased from the French (see DUUX-5). The latest Ming class hulls are also thought to have tested out AIP (Air Independent Propulsion).

AIP is a generic tem for closed loop engines. It is a term that encompasses technologies such as oxygen substitution or Stirling Engine, which allows a submarine to operate without the need to surface or use a snorkel to accessatmospheric oxygen. These technologies significantly reduce the noise level of the submarine and thus their rate of detection.

Right: Ming Class (Type 035 B)

Ming class submarines have reportedly been exercising more frequently and making recent incursions into Japanese waters.

There are at least four known variants of the Type 035 built between 1969 and 1979. The early variants were said to be trouble-prone and were retired in the 1980s. However, production resumed in 1987 with the improved Type 035G and a total of 12 boats built between 1988 and 1995.

The production line used for the Type 035 was re-opened due to the delay in the development of the new-generation Type 039 (to be known as the Song class). An additional 6 boats were built between 1997 and 2001.

On one occasion a Ming surfaced briefly within Japanese waters before submerging again and another – an enhanced Ming class, designed Song class – surfaced briefly near the USS Kitty Hawkwhen she was on manoeuvres.

In 2003, a Ming class (No. 361) was lost with all hands. It was speculated that 361 was testing an AIP system, and that a failure caused the near-instantaneous death of the all crewmembers (as they were found dead in their quarters with the submarine intact). But it is one theory among several.

Ming class submarines have an ‘acoustic signature’ in the higher reaches which makes them an easy target for modern antisubmarine warfare (ASW) systems. Today (2011) it is better suited to coastal defence, regional patrolling and surveillance duties. Combat missions and deep ocean patrols are better suited to the more capable Type 039 (Song class) and Kilo class.

Notwithstanding these grave shortcomings the advances made in weapons systems, as we shall see below, have breath new life in whatwould be obsolete craft.

Modern Age

The Kilo class represented a huge leap forward in the PLAN submarine fleet. In the 1980s the Kilo was acknowledged to be one of the world’s quietest class of submarines and NATO’s rating reflected this. China’s first Kilo class was operational in 1982.

In 2002, a $2 billion deal was signed for eight more Kilo 636 submarines these were fitted with the capability of launching the Russian made Novator 3M-54E Klub S (a cruise-type missile) capable of engaging land and sea targets at 220 km. By 2006 China had 12 Kilos operational.

Despite the purchase of the Kilos, the PLAN has continued to develop indigenous designs. The Song class (Type 039) is another conventional diesel-electric submarine which was first launched in 1994 with sea trials in 1995 and operational in 1999.

It is the first Chinese submarine to use the modern teardrop hull shape – a design said by some to have first been used byBritainin the R-class hunter-killer submarines designed in 1917.

Left: Song class (039)

The Song class, at 2,500 tons, is said to represent a major milestone to indigenous submarine designs, being comparable in its capabilities to contemporary Western built submarines. Note the loss of any bow profile on this generation of boat.

First commissioned in 1998 it featured Western influences with a German propulsion system, in the shape of a seven bladed ‘skewed’ propeller and noise-reduction rubber tiles. Songsubmarines are armed with torpedoes and a sub-launched variant of the YJ-8 anti-ship missile. Earlier Russian and Chinese submarines had to surface in order to launch missiles.

Visually the Song class looks very much like a Kilo class submarine which also features the water-drop (teardrop) shape, a double hull with a T-shape stern rudder and a single large shaft.

Kilo class submarines have a pair of bow planes located close to the midship on the upper hull in front of the sail. With a reserve buoyancy of 32%, the submarines consists of six watertight compartments separated by transverse bulkhead in a pressured double hull, which increases the survivability of the submarine, even with one compartment and adjacent ballast tanks flooded.

Left: Kilo class (3,950 tons submerged)

The command and control and fire-control systems are located in the main control room which is sealed off from other compartments.

The rational is forChinato build a modernised underwater force thatis capable of supporting its military actions againstTaiwanand to deter any unwelcomed intervention, i.e. by the U.S. Navy.

Of the 49 Kilo class subs ever built over 40 are still in service. and 17 of the approx. 3,000 ton vessel are thought still to be operated by Russia. Kilo class have “Pump Jet Propulsion” to help overcomecavitation (a problem first faced by high-speed propeller aircraft like the Typhoon in WWII).

The Kilo class is being succeeded by the Lada class (2,700 t) submerged; which began sea trials in 2005. This latest diesel electric offering small size and low noise with powerful torpedo and missile armament and the use of hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells generating electricity. The hull, as have other Soviet designed craft, is covered with rubber anti-sonar protection tiles to reduced the risk of detection.

The Kilo class can be fitted with a launcher for eight Strela-3 (NATO codename: SA-N-8 Gremlin) surface-to-air missiles, but those in service with the PLA Navy are not equipped with this system.

The eight newer Project 636M submarines are equipped with theKlub-S missile complex, which can fire the Novator 3M-54E anti-ship cruise missile. The missile has a maximum range of 220 km and a 450 kg high-explosive warhead.

Type 041, known by the NATO code as the Yuan class is expected to adapt an AIP system to achieve maximum quietness in operational mode.

The Yuan could be armed with advanced Russian and/or Chinese made torpedoes and cruise missiles.

This class of SSK (hunter killer sub) is an improved Song class and is expected to have capabilities which surpass the Kilo andSong class SSK currently being operated by the PLAN.

Right: Yuan class

Series production of the Yuan class began late in 2007, with at least two boats identified so far. The Yuan came as a surprise to US military intelligence, as the submarine’s existence was entirely unknown until internet images emerged.

The last of the conventionally powered boatto be mentioned before moving on to submarines using nuclear propulsion is the new Russian Lada class.​
Lada class in dry dock

To date China has not asked or taken delivery of this new type. Only one is thought to be operational and so new is it thatnone have been exported although an export model is available. The ‘export’ model is known to the Russians as the Amurclass submarine. It comes in a variety of displacements from 700 tons to 2,600 tons.
Essentially the Lada class is a highly improved version of the earlier Kilo class and externally looks very similar. In comparison to double-hulled Kilo class, surface displacement has been reduced by 1.3 times – from 2,300 down to 1,765 tons. The submerged speed has been increased from 19 to 21 knots.
Submarines of Russia’s Project 677 (NATO code Lada) appear to be a series of Russian diesel electric subs developed in 1997.

Right: Lada class
Launched in Oct 2004, sea trials began in Nov 2005 and by April 2010 the submarine was reported to have finished its testing. Another three Lada class submarines are believed to be under construction.
There are plans to launch between four and six of them by 2015 and ultimately the Russian Navy plans to have a total of eight Ladaclass submarines in the near future.
The Lada class boat is designed for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, defense of naval bases, seashore and sea lanes, as well as for conducting reconnaissance. It boasts the latest generation of Russian missile, torpedoes and sonar systems.

Political Intrigue ?
Russia sells warships and exports military hardware as regularly and as casually as Germany exports Mercedes Benz and BMW cars. The Amur class submarine is a case in point. There is a size and price to suit every pocket. Third world countries – as they used to be known – can now indulge in a little sabre rattling with their neighbours (Pakistan) or even with the accepted muscle on the block, i.e. the US.
For all its moral protesting at the role of NATO in Libya, it is Russan made AK47s, RPG s, rocket launchers, artillery pieces and tanks that are being used in large numbers by the rebels against the former corrrupt government of Kaddafi.
India is a case in point. India “leased” a Russia Charlie class nuclear powered missile armed submarine in 1988 for 3 years (fee undisclosed). India paid US$ 2 billion for the completion of two 12,000 ton Akula class submarines which
were 40 – 60% completed.

Left: Akula class nuclear powered
But whereas Russia’s Akulaclass could be equipped with 28 nuclear-capable cruise missiles with a strike range of 1,620 naut. miles, the Indian version was reportedly armed with the 162 naut mile range 3M-65 Klubnuclear-capable missiles.
In parallel with China’s path to increased military might Indiahas cultivated a home grown design and builds capability for nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines. The product of this, the 6,000 ton Arihant class is expected to be commissioned starting in 2012 (INS Arihant was launched in July 2009).
All around the Indian Ocean and stretching into the Pacific from Iran to Malaysia and on to Haiwai, nations are acquiring lethal technology from the USA, China or Russia. Of itself this can be said to be normal but whereas prior to 1945 one could assume that the barrels of most country’s guns would point in unison the same cannot be said today.
At another level the intrigue gets more interesting. Russian and Italy has signed a partnership agreement to build the S1000 class submarine. Externally
this looks similar to the Lada andAmur class submarines. In the last few weeksItaly has surprisingly negotiated with China for the financing of its billion Euro national debt. Will Russia or will Italy supply China with is next generation submarine ?

Righr: S1000 class
One would expect the sale to be made by Russia but could the Italians be seduced by an overture and perhaps include some Western sonar technology ?
The existing illustrations of the S1000 class appear to give it a conventional north south crucifix rudder assembly but on others it is shown turned 45 degrees to give an ‘X’ configuration.

Submarines China did not get
Zulu class submarines (left) were the Soviet Union’s first post-war attack submarines. At 2,387 tons they were a contempaory of Whiskey class andUS ‘GUPPY’. They were as capable as the American GUPPY fleet-boat conversions (see feature below).

Zulu class boats had a ‘step’ at the top leading edge of the conning tower. Later Romeo tyoes had an inward step at the foot of the leading edge of the conning tower (see Romeo above). Zulu class boats shared a similar sonar arrangement as the Whiskey class and both were heavily influenced by the German Type XXI U-boat of the World War II era. In all 26 boats were built overall entering service from 1952 to 1957
Unfortunately, Zulu class vessels suffered from structural weaknesses and
harmonic vibration problems that limited their operational depth and submerged speed. It was replaced by the Foxtrot class (2,475 long tons )

Right: Foxtrot class
This was designed to the earlier built between 1957 and 1983 and thought its hul was better its three propellor design made it ‘noisier’ than other designs.
The Foxtrot class was one of the last conventional designs before the adoption of the teardrop shaped hull.

Characteristic of almost all Soviet boats built since 1945 are the windows in the conning outlined in white paint thatappear half way up the conning tower (US = sail).
Left: Foxtrot class at sea
The next Soviet submarine, chronologically, was the Tango class (3,800 tons submerged) of which 18 were operational from 1972 (the last one was retired in 2010).
class had far more battery capacity, far higher than previous conventional Russian submarine classes.

Right: Tango class
Designed to ambush and attack Western nuclear powered submarines at shipping ‘choke points’, e.g Gibraltar, Suez,Skagerrak and Kattegat, it has suitable sonar equipment and because all of its hull was rubber coated it was nicknamed “rezinka” (rubber).
China lacks sincerity
Peking always insists its military modernisation poses no threat to anyone. Yet it denies and prevents Taiwan the right to modernise and enlarge its naval and air forces.
If Peking were sincere in it friendship to its nairghbours it should raise no objection – in the same way that Britain does not object to France building submairnes and aircraft carriers. Taiwan and China are separated by 90 miles of water yet Britain and France are separated by only 22 miles of water.
The US defence budget has been – and remains – the biggest in the world at around $700 billion pa, but in the current economic climate for how much longer ?
China’s defence budget is the second largest and the rate of increase may well go up this year. China and Russia appear, so far, to be insulated from the global monetary upheavals and banking turmoil.
There have been three major modern wars in other parts of the world which have have hardened the resolve of China’s armed service leaders to catch up militarily.
The Taiwanese Navy currently operates four submarines; two are the Hai Lung class submarine – the Hai Lung (Sea Dragon) 793 and Hai Hu (Sea Tiger) 794. They were acquired from Holland and commissioned in 1987 and 1988 respectively. Two former U.S. Navy Guppy II-class vessels which were delivered in 1973 – theHai Shih and Hai Bao – are also still in service, but only for training purposes. All 4 of Taiwan’s submarines operate out of Tsoying Naval Base in Kaohsiung. Taiwan is interested in acquiring additional vessels but has been unsuccessful as a result of the political pressure (black listing, orders cancelled, etc) put on potential exporters by mainland China.[5]

Taiwan’s submarines are aimed at providing a capability to deter Chinese naval blockades and to ensure that its sea lanes remain open, thus protecting the trade on which the island depends. In addition, Taiwan’s submarines could be used to block Chinese ports but are unlikely to be capable of countering Beijing’s superior submarine fleet.
Since the acquisition of the two Dutch made “Hai Lung” vessels commissioned in 1987, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense has been unsuccessfully exploring ways to procure new diesel submarines. [6]

In April 2001, the George W. Bush administration offered Taiwana substantial arms package which included eight diesel-electric submarines. However, the United Stateshas not produced diesel versions since the 1950s. [7]

‘Special requirements’
In an article recently published in a Chinese Communist Party publication, General Jiang Luming, head of the military economics unit at China’s National Defence University, called for “maximising national interest” by doubling China’s military funding to 2.8% of GDP, which he said was the average of 132 countries since the end of the Cold War.
He said this was needed to meet “special security requirements” – an apparent reference to preparing for eventual re-unification with Taiwan, safeguarding key interests overseas and off-shore, and China’s position as a post-socialist country flirting with capiltalsim but without any military allies in the region.
That deficit is presently being actively addressed. Since May 2008 a series of visits between the Russian and Chinese heads of state and senior ministers have taken place. In the West this might be seen as just a necessary courtesy but the Chinese mindset places greater store on the meaning of words, sentience and overt act of “friendship”, e.g. state visits.
Russia’s President Medvedev flew to China in Sept 2010 for a ceremony marking the completion of an oil pipeline thatwill transport Russian oil directly intoChina.
China’s realises that its economic growth will make it dependant on Russian oil should its sea-lane supplies be put under threat. Chinese leaders are therefore expected to focus heavily on energy, including a potential gas-supply deal and a $5 billion joint-venture oil refinery in China’s eastern city of Tianjin.
Russia’s Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin (and President designate), visited Peking (Beijing) in Oct 2011 signing trade agreements and coming understandings about the future balance in economic matters.
Red Shift Eastwards
A “Red Shift” is unmistakable as global military and political power moves ever Eastwards. For the present day and into the future Russia and China are the new “heavyweights” in currency markets, sovereign debt, trade, and political dominance. They represent an Eastern axis in which might be difficult to counter. Russia’s only lament is that its ‘normal’ trade with China, excluding military contracts, is 2% compared with China’s trade with the US.
A sign of this increasing political dominance came in August this year (2011) when the reclusive North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, travelled not to the Kremlin but to Siberia (Russia’s Far East) to meet with President Dmitry Medvedev. It was Kim’s first trip to Russia in 9 years and a further sign of Pyongyang’s increasing efforts to reach out for economic assistance and diplomatic support.
With North Korea’s economy in dire straits North Korea is seeking to improve its trade relations with its neighbours, i.e. China and Russia. North Korea will probably want to talk about a Gazprompipeline through its territory into South Korea (Gazprom has the monopoly of all Russian gas). North Korea could earn between $500 million and a $1 billon in transit fees if it allowed the pipeline to go ahead. A pipeline that would bring in both revenue and fuel to North Korea’s gutted economy is a 20 year old dream for Pyongyang.
However, Russia is not overly eager given Pyongyang’s history of aberrant and brinkmanship behaviour which could sour relations between Russia and South Korea, its ultimate customer. Russia will also want to know the true intentions of Pyongyang’s nuclear programme and might use energy and food shortages in North Koreaas a bargaining lever.
In the alternative – though this option is doubtful -Russia might consider, should North Korea behave in a dependable way, to lease a port or port facilities in waters free of ice (a newPort Arthur).
How this will go down with the Chinese in what they see as their exclusive territorial waters is problematical. As always, North Koreawill be forced to balance its foreign relationships and avoid causing offence to either Russia or China or both.

Appendix A
U-Boat developments (1939- 1945)
See http://rwhiston.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/11/
It is difficult to believe at this point in history that German navy, under Karl Donitz, began World War II with only 5 operational U-boats in the Atlantic. In part this is due to the more overwhelming fact that during the war the Kreigmarine took delivery of over 1,500 boats – mostly in the early and middle war years.
In tandem with the know-how of building U-boats at an ever-increasing rate, the Third Reich engineers pioneered radical concepts in engines and hull design. For instance, by 1944 it was possible despite air raids for U-3017, a Type XXI, to have its keel laid down on Sept 2nd 1944 and to be completed and launched a few months later on Nov 5th 1944. By 1942 German engineers had devised ways of doubling the underwater speed of a U-boat to over 10 knots.
U-3017 was ccommissioned on Jan 5th 1945 and used as a training vessel in Norway. She was handed over to the Royal Navy in full working order in May 1945.
Fortunately for the outcome of the Battle of the Atlantic, many of these designs did not come to fruition for a variety reasons; some proved impractical; some fell victim to internal squabbles; and some for external reasons, e.g. limited funding / materials by 1943. Towards the end of the war some German shipyards in both the East and West had to be abandoned to the approaching Allied forces.
The following list is a Table of U-boats projects that were designed and sometimes tested but never completed or put into production.

Appendix B

Cloak and dagger
The noble cause of defending democracy anmd saving the world from tyranny was quickly forgotten after May 1945 and the utterly abandoned as the squabble for the spoils began. The scene must have been reminiscent of the Carpet Baggers pillaging the Southern States after the American civil war.
The Cuningham Papers” give us an insight into the brutal duplicity required and the newly emergent fear of having to deal with “the Russkies.” Admiralty Directive dated 13 August 1945 to Vice Admiral Geoffrey Miles and Rear Admiral William Parry, the British Representatives on the Tripartite Naval Commission, made it very clear that the Russians were to be denied access to the Walterwerke in Kiel – the very factory where Dr Helmut Walter researched and developed a whole series of new and advanced technologies related to the use of gas turbines for military purposes.
Both the British and American authorities were determined that such technology should not fall into Russian hands. The Postdam Agreement had been signed but sincerity and trust is obviously absent even in this short quote: [8]
  • “ . . . In particular, the Russians are not in any circumstances to be allowed access to the research laboratory, establishments or equipment of the Walterwerke.”
  • “ . . . . The disposal of the latest types of U-Boat, fitted with hydrogen peroxide propulsion units, presents a problem of special importance and some difficulty. The most valuable boats are U-1406 and U-1407, which are fitted with the unit type 18X, and are capable of being completed within a reasonably short time. In addition, there are four badly damaged boats fitted with a smaller unit, type 17, namely U-792, U-793, U-794 and U-795.”
” . . . It is desired to exclude the Russians from acquiring any of these special types of U-Boat. The Russians are, however, almost certainly aware of the existence of one or both types, and have a right under the [Potsdam] Protocol to inspect the boats. The exercise of this right, if a request is made, should be permitted, but inspection should be confined to the boats themselves and restricted to the minimum. You should report immediately any enquiries made by the Russians concerning these types [of U-Boat], and pending further instructions your case should be:
  1. to maintain that U-1406 and U-1407 are the only boats of this type available for disposal within [the] Protocol.
  2. to insist in concert with your USA colleague, that U-1406 and U-1407 are to be allocated to the USA and UK respectively.
The refusal of any of the U-792 to U-795 class to the Russians may be a delicate matter, but has great importance, since the acquisition of one of these boats might lead the Russians to put forward a claim under . . . . the Protocol to examine and take equipment in the Walterwerke establishments for the purpose of providing spares for the U-Boats to be delivered to them. Further consideration is being given to the question of the disposal of these special types of U-Boat and establishments in relation to the Russians. Meanwhile, you should, if possible, avoid discussing the subject with the Russians.”
There is no doubt that the Americans and British were determined to deny the latest German submarine technology to the Russians if at all possible – while exploiting it for themsleves.
In practical terms the Russians had captured a considerable number of unfinished Type XXI U-Boats in the shipyards in Danzig, and because they had also gained access to the plans for, and a full-scale model of, the HTP-powered Type XXVI U-Boat [U-4501 through to U-4600], which would have been a larger and longer-range version of the Type XVIIB U-Boat.
Post Script
Three intact Type XVIIB U-Boats (U-1405 to U-1407) fell within the British Sector after May 1945 with 2 or 3 more, U-1408 to U-1410 partially fininished. These U-boats were powered by the fabled HTP [high test peroxide] system.
Unfortunately, U-1405 to U-1407 had been scuttled by their crew following the German collapse at the end of the Second World War.
Right: U-boat, U-1406, a Type XVIIB allocated to US being dismantled after World War II​
U-1407,which was allocated to Britain, was raised and salvaged in June 1945 and together with its inventor Prof. Hellmuth Walter, transported to Barrow-in-Furness. There Vickers under the supervision of Prof. Walter, fitted her with a new and complete set of machinery (also captured in Germany). She was re-commissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Meteorite.
LaterHMS Explorer and HMS Excalibur entered RN service as experimantal HTP powered craft

China’s Submarine Fleet | Robert Whiston's Weblog
Chinese Shipbuilder CSOC unveiled new Frigate, LHD and Submarine designs at IDEX 2013

Beijing based China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. (CSOC) unveiled several new designs during IDEX 2013, the international defense exhibition held in the United Arab Emirates. Navyrecognition took the opportunity to get some details about these new designs during the event, including a new LHD design, the S20 submarine and a new stealth frigate design.
Chinese Shipbuilder CSOC unveiled new Frigate, LHD and Submarine designs at IDEX 2013



The sign next to the model might have said "LPD", the model showcased on CSOC's stand at IDEX really was an LHD (Landing Helicopter Dock).

Reported specifications (length of 198 meters, displacement of 22,000 tons, breadth of 21.80 meters, and maximum speed of 22 Knots) appear to be close to those of a Mistral class LHD for example.

A CSOC representative at the show insisted the design was for the export market exclusively. After inquiring about the design's projection capabilities the same representative told us the LHD had 4 helicopter spots and could carry 8 more internally inside the hangar. Regarding troops accommodations, we were told the design could accommodate in excess of 700 soldiers and over 50 armored vehicles. The CSOC representative confirmed the presence of a well-deck for amphibious operations but declined to comment on it capacities or specifications.

Looking at the model's details, we can guess that CSOC's LHD design is fitted with two naval gun mounts at the bow (each carrying their own Optical Fire Control), two FL-3000N (with 18 cells/missiles each) missile systems at the stern and two Type 730 (or the newer Type 1130) 30mm Gatling type CIWS located forward and aft on the island of the LHD.

CSOC S20 SSK Submarine

CSOC was also showcasing a new submarine on its stand at IDEX: The S20.

The CSOC representative gave us the following specifications for this new submarine:
Length: 66 meters
Breadth: 8 meters
Maximum Draft: 8 meters
Displacement (submerged): 2,200 tons
Maximum speed: about 20 Knots
Crew: 40

The person declined to disclose the maximum depth and endurance of the S20. We were told the weapons fit may varry according to customer requirements but the S20 may accommodate heavy torpedoes and anti-ship missiles from six torpedo tubes and deploy mines and special forces. It may also be fitted with AIP (air-independent propulsion) system if a customer requires.

Finally the CSOC representative declined to comment any similarities of the S20 with the existing Type 041 (Yuan class) submarine currently in service with the Chinese Navy.


CSOC Stealth Frigate

The new "High Performance Frigate" (we were told there was currently no existing project name or designation for this type of frigate) showcased next to the LHD and S20 submarine at IDEX featured a relatively stealthy designed we have never seen before.

Reported specifications of the Frigate are as follow:
Length: 135 meters
Breadth: 15.3 meters
Displacement: 3,500 tons
Maximum speed: 28 Knots

We were told crew complement would be around 110 sailors. The type is fitted with 32 VLS cells at the stern, a H/PJ-26 main gun (Chinese version of the Russian AK-176 76.2mm naval gun), two H/PJ-13 CIWS (Chinese version of the Russian AK-630), two manned machine gun mounts on top of the main bridge, eight anti-ship missile launchers and one FL-3000N missile system on top of the helicopter hangar.

We could not get any information regarding anti-submarine capabilities or the sensor suite fitted on this Frigate. We were just told that "it depends on the customer needs".

Chinese Shipbuilder CSOC unveiled new Frigate, LHD and Submarine designs

QING class



Jin class (Type 094)

Type-095 and Type-096
China Arsenal
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PLA Type 092

PLA Type 091

PLA Type 039A

PLA Type 039G 'Song Class'

PLA 039G

PLA Kilo-class Submarine

PRC Type 039

This undated picture shows a nuclear-powered submarine of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s North Sea Fleet preparing to dive into the sea.
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China’s Nuclear Submarines Are Less Than Advertised
By Joshua Philipp, Epoch Times | November 20, 2013
Last Updated: November 20, 2013 12:03 am

A Chinese Navy submarine on April 23, 2009, off Qingdao in China's Shandong Province. Recently, the Chinese state-run media have boasted of the ability of China's submarine fleet to target the United States with ballistic missiles. (Guang Niu/AFP/Getty Images)

Nuclear submarines have been a favorite tool of the Chinese regime’s state-run media recently when trumpeting China’s military strength or threatening the West. Yet, despite the noise China makes about its nuclear submarines, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be.

The U.S. Navy’s top admiral, Jonathan Greenert, was asked about a recent article in China’s state-run Global Times, which claimed China’s submarines could kill 5 million to 12 million Americans with nuclear missiles. Greenert pointed out several key flaws in China’s submarines.

“For a submarine-launched ballistic missile to be effective it has to be accurate, and you have to be stealthy, and survivable and I’ll leave it at that,” Greenert said, during the Nov. 16 Reagan National Defense Forum, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

The Global Times report included a map of the United States complete with targets for nuclear attacks on major cities including Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The report followed a segment from China’s state-run CCTV News Network in late October that showed off China’s submarine fleet, in light of China’s territorial disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

Yet, Greenert’s comments are well grounded. China’s nuclear submarines have several technical flaws, limits caused by geography, and the deployment of its next-generation fleet has faced several setbacks. This is in addition to the fact that the United States has complex systems capable of monitoring submarines much more advanced than what China can produce.

China’s main nuclear-powered ballistic missile (SSBN) submarine is the Jin-class (Type 094). Three of them are currently operational, and China may have five more in service over the next decade, according to thePentagon’s 2013 annual report, “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.”

Despite being China’s most advanced submarines, the Jin-class subs are louder than Soviet submarines from 30 years ago, according to an August 2009 reportfrom U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence.

Anti-submarine warfare is based heavily on a nation’s ability to detect and track submarines. The main system the United States uses to track submarines is the Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS), which is part of the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS).

SOSUS consists of a large network of undersea sensors installed at choke points in the ocean. It allows the United States to detect submarines and track them based on their noise signatures. It was used during the Cold War to track Soviet SSBNs.

Stealth is one of the key benefits of a submarine force, and controlling noise level is key for achieving stealth. Reducing the level of noise is among the key reasons why submarines are moving from diesel power to nuclear power, and why modern fleets have other advanced technologies for noise dampening.

The majority of China’s submarine fleet is still diesel powered, most of the submarines were purchased from Russia in the 1990s and 2000s, according to the Pentagon report. It is estimated to have 49 diesel submarines and 5 nuclear submarines.

The other problem with the Jin-class submarines is attack range—and this is affected both by technology and geography.

The Jin-class submarines will eventually be armed with China’s JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missile, according to the Pentagon report. The nuclear missiles have an estimated range of 4,600 miles, and are expected to reach operational capability this year.

If a Chinese Jin-class submarine were to target Seattle, it would have to sail deep into Japanese waters, according to a report by Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

The report states, “Due to the apparent noise level of Chinese missile submarines and the extensive anti-submarine capabilities of the United States that would indeed be risky sailing in a war.”

The other option for the Chinese nuclear submarines would be to fire their missiles over Russia. The report notes, “All China’s ICBMs [inter-continental ballistic missiles] launched at the United States from their current deployment areas would overfly Russia.”

China’s nuclear submarines are confined to a small area around China, and the range of its nuclear missiles is limited. According to the report, if they were to even target Hawaii, the submarines would need to enter the Sea of Japan or the Philippine Sea.

It does state, however, that China’s nuclear-armed subs pose a threat to U.S. territories outside the continental United States, including Alaska and Guam. They are also a threat to U.S. warships in the region.

Keeping Chinese nuclear-submarines out of range from the continental United States relies on keeping them within China’s waters.
China’s Nuclear Submarines Are Less Than Advertised » The Epoch Times
China is also developing its next-generation SSBN, the Type-096, which according to a forthcoming report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission is expected to “improve the range, mobility, stealth, and lethality” of China’s nuclear subs,Defense News reported.


by Dr. Lyle Goldstein and Bill Murray
The maritime balance of power in the East Asian littoral is undergoing slow, but steady change in Beijing’s favor. Numerous indicators, including the imminent sea-trials of the first of China’s 2nd-generation nuclear submarines, the first serial production of its indigenous Song-class diesel boats, and the ongoing purchase from Russia of eight “Kilo”-class diesel submarines, all confirm PRC progress in undersea warfare across a broad front.

Because of a centuries-long history of neglect, incompetence, and defeat at sea, there is a strong tendency in Washington to rate the Chinese as poor mariners. The recent accident and loss of all hands onboard a Ming-class submarine in April 2003 only serves to reinforce these stereotypes. However, besides obvious safety lapses, the incident also shows that the submarine force of the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is engaged in a vigorous program of realistic at-sea training, under battle-like conditions. Moreover, despite this recent mishap, the appointment of Admiral Zhang Dingfa – a nuclear-trained submariner – to head the PLAN suggests growing momentum in undersea warfare.

Indeed, it was the emerging “ASW problem that we have out there in the Western Pacific,” that moved Pacific Fleet Commander ADM Walter Doran to call on the U.S. Navy to “rededicate ourselves to getting back into [the ASW] business.” With undersea operations a key element of China’s emerging maritime strategy, the U.S. submarine community must learn more about this prospective competitor. Since the origins and development of any large and complex institution over time will have a strong influence on its future evolution, this article reviews the known history of the PLAN submarine force.

200 Submarines for Imperial China

Following the humiliating Opium War of the mid-19th century, China faced continual encroachment from Western nations, and total defeat at the hands of the “upstart” Japanese in 1895. The occupation of Beijing by an alliance of powers in 1900 only added insult to injury. China’s profound maritime weakness, however, encouraged surprisingly bold thinking about emerging technologies for undersea warfare. Over the last decades of the 19th century, Chinese leaders attempted vainly to gain the support of foreign powers, particularly Britain and France, for constructing a modern navy. In 1915, a former U.S. naval attaché, CDR Irvin Gillis, arranged for the visit of Vice-Admiral Wei Han and 30 Chinese student officers to Groton, Connecticut to observe submarine building and operations. According to one account, Wei Han “delighted [Electric Boat] officials by announcing that China needed a fleet of 200 submarines.” An initial purchase of 12 vessels was inked, and plans for training Chinese crews were put into place. Unfortunately for China’s navy – and for Electric Boat – these agreements collapsed as the imperial regime gradually gave way to the so-called warlord era.

Years of desultory internecine warfare among the warlords were followed by a period of growing consolidation during the late 1920s and early 1930s under the leadership of the Chinese nationalist, Chiang Kai-shek. Submarines continued to be of significant interest. Chiang attempted to purchase German submarines in 1934 and hired a German naval advisor. Although nothing materialized, Chiang did succeed in sending a number of young naval officers to Germany for training on submarine technology. Some of these officers would later rise to prominence in the PLAN. After these false starts, China finally received its first two submarines from the British after World War II, but following the Communist civil war victory in 1949, China would look to Russia for submarine assistance.


Soviet-designed “Romeo”-class conventional attack submarines were produced in significant quantities by China between 1965 and the early 1980s, and the PLAN eventually had more than 60 of these boats in service. The “Romeo”s displaced 1,319 tons surfaced and 1,712 tons submerged on a length of 252 feet. China continues to produce the Mingclass, which originally was simply a wider “Romeo”, but has been continuously upgraded with advanced quieting and weaponry.The PLAN’s first nuclear-powered attack submarine – of the Han class – was laid down in the mid-1960s but did not enter service until 1974. The first two of these five ships were troubled with serious propulsion defects, lacked basic weaponry and electronics, and were never entirely reliable. The latter members of the class displaced 5,550 tons submerged on a length of 295 feet, and in 1985, one of them made a submerged voyage of 84 days.
Little Brother

In fact, close cooperation with Soviet submariners predated the Communist victory in China. Stalin’s Red Army had entered northern China during the final weeks of the war against Japan in mid-1945. By 1948, a significant force of 14 Soviet submarines patrolled the Yellow Sea, operating out of Lushun at the tip of the Liaodong Peninsula. In the fall of 1948, Chiang
Kai-Shek’s Kuo-Min Tang (KMT) faction, fielding a number of surface combatants, attempted to blockade Manchuria and insulate central China from Communist infiltration. This effort failed, probably because of intelligence on the KMT patrols from Soviet submarines, and when the Peolples Iberation Army (PLA) also succeeded in landing large contingents of Communist organizers on the nearby Shandong Peninsula, Chiang’s armies were soon defeated in central China.

The Communist Party approved the preliminary formation of a Chinese submarine force in June 1949, four months before the official founding of the PRC.

Mao Zedong’s focus on submarines reflected both his determination to end the “Chinese nation’s total failure to create maritime defenses” and the strong influence of the Soviet “New School” approach to maritime strategy. The doctrine was encapsulated in a three-character phrase to guide the PRC’s new navy: “Qian, Kong, Kuai” – “Submarines, [Land-Based] Aircraft, and Fast [Attack Patrol Boats].” In 1951, several hundred officers were selected from the ground forces to form the nucleus of the new submarine corps. Many were sent to study with the Soviet Pacific Fleet and trained aboard Soviet submarines. However, a year later, the submarine force suffered its first major institutional setback when the extraordinary demands of the stalemated Korean conflict forced the PLA to divert funds from shipbuilding to aircraft production.

Nonetheless, step-by-step progress under Soviet tutelage continued during the 1950s. Over the course of the decade, 275 Chinese students traveled to the USSR to study submarine building and operations. In 1953, the PLAN received its first submarines, (one M-class, and three S 1-class) from the USSR and founded the submarine academy at Qingdao. The following June, the PLAN declared its first, four-ship submarine squadron operational, although some authorities believe that submarines operating in the Yellow Sea before 1954 may well have had joint Sino-Soviet crews. On the whole, China’s initial submarine efforts were concentrated in the North Sea Fleet, probably to counter U.S. forces based in Japan. Mao’s recognition of the importance of the developing submarine force was underscored by his January 1956 visit to the Jiangnan shipyard in Shanghai, where the PRC’s very first submarine was being built from a Soviet kit. China would eventually build 21 of these Soviet “Whiskey”-class boats.

As early as 1956, even before China had produced its first diesel boat, nuclear propulsion for submarines was adopted as a national priority by Mao himself. The daunting challenge that this entailed only became fully clear after Moscow refused Beijing’s explicit request to share nuclear propulsion technology, on the grounds that it would be premature for the PLAN. Foreshadowing the imminent souring of Sino-Soviet relations, Mao reacted indignantly: “We will have to build nuclear submarines even if it takes us 10,000 years.” In July 1958, the Politburo approved an ambitious plan to develop nuclear propulsion and an SLBM simultaneously.

Problematic Adolescence

By 1957, the year that culminated a “golden age” of relatively rational governance and steady development under the Communists, the Chinese had established a strong foundation for their submarine force. However, this period was followed by the gravely-destructive Great Leap Forward (GLF) in 1958 and later by the Great Cultural Revolution (GCR) of 1966-69. These periods of tumult had lasting, deleterious effects on the PLAN submarine force.

Mao’s GLF was an attempt to accelerate China’s modernization process by turning away from the Soviet model of development in favor of an effort to harness the ideological will of the Chinese people. Accordingly, Mao rejected Khrushchev’s offer to create a joint Sino-Soviet fleet in exchange for a renewed Soviet naval presence in Chinese waters. As a result, Russia was prevented from locating submarine broadcast transmitters on the Liaodong peninsula, and China lost a unique opportunity to augment the strength and operational capabilities of the PLAN undersea force.

Beijing was actively supporting North Vietnam in its escalating war. Just before the great rift opened between China and the USSR, the PLAN had received a kit and associated plans for a “Golf”-class ballistic missile submarine from the Soviets, and it was launched at Dalian in 1964. Washington was so perturbed by this development that a serious proposal was made – but subsequently rejected – to execute a preemptive attack against this vessel on its maiden voyage.

The Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s dealt another major shock to the Chinese submarine force during its troubled adolescence. Due to its reliance on technically skilled personnel and foreign assistance, the Navy was much more vulnerable to this crusade against intellectuals and foreign influence than the dominant army. Beginning in 1966, approximately 3,800 naval officers were investigated and purged, including at least 11 senior admirals. The troubled nuclear propulsion program was also affected by the resulting chaos. In 1966, the lead designer for the PLAN’s prospective nuclear submarines, Huang Xuhua, was tried and retried by mobs of Red Guards, who accused him of being an enemy agent; only the intervention of Premier Zhou Enlai saved him from serving a sentence raising pigs. Additionally, factional violence broke out during January 1967 at the nuclear fuel plant in Baotou, interrupting research on fuel rods for submarine reactors. Given that China’s first-generation nuclear submarines were developed against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that their operational performance was considerably inferior to that of contemporary American or Russian vessels.

There were, however, significant areas of progress, perhaps the result of increasing defense expenditures during the period. In 1968, China broke ground on massive, hardened shelters for its nuclear submarine fleet not far from Qingdao and completed the installation in the mid-1970s. Of the 16 major combatants constructed during the Cultural Revolution, 12 were submarines, including the new “Romeo” class, which appeared in 1968. That same year the Chinese laid the keel for their first SSN.

But overall, the Cultural Revolution had a devastating impact on the development of China’s submarine force. In a broad assault against military education, the Qingdao submarine academy, which had 2,000 students at the time, was closed down in 1969 and did not reopen until 1973. Training and maintenance also suffered during this tumultuous period and exacted a long-lasting toll from the PLAN submarine force. As elsewhere in Chinese society, the submarine force inherited a “lost generation” that had been poorly educated and trained. Perhaps even more debilitating, the Navy was forced to commission ideologically acceptable “left-leaning” officer recruits whose incompetence would impede technical and organizational progress in the force well into the 1980s. The disaster of the Cultural Revolution for Chinese maritime power has long been recognized in PLAN publications.

Back from the Brink

China’s submarine force benefited significantly when the chaos of the Cultural Revolution was replaced by the rigid and total militarization of Chinese society in the early 1970s. This change was due partly to a growing perception of threats from the Soviet Union. Production rates of the PLAN’s “Romeo”-class submarines trebled, to approximately six per year by 1974, and by 1978, China had more than 60 of these ships. China’s first indigenous anti-ship torpedoes, the Yu-1 and Yu-2, also entered serial production at this time, to be followed a decade later by an ASW homing torpedo, the Yu-3. During the mid-1970s, Chinese submarines began to venture further afield, penetrating the first island chain (the line from the Philippine Islands, through Taiwan to the Ryukus), and even the second island chain (formed by Indonesia, the Marianas Archipelago, and the main islands of Japan) for the first time. Most significantly, the first, long-delayed Han-class SSN became operational in 1974, although its propulsion system was highly susceptible to steam and primary leaks and reportedly exposed the crew to significant radiation dangers. The ship also lacked weaponry and basic electronic systems.

Deng Xiaoping’s ascendance in the late 1970s signaled a welcome turn to more pragmatic policies in all aspects of Chinese governance. Even so, the submarine force could well have suffered from both significant reductions in China’s defense budget and a new emphasis on China’s ground forces after Vietnam successfully fought China to a bloody draw in 1979. Indeed, the nuclear propulsion program did suffer serious budget cuts during the early 1980s, but since decommissioning the oldest diesel boats increased overall efficiency, the PLAN submarine force made incremental progress. First, there was the successful submerged launch of the JL-1, China’s first SLBM from the “Golf”-class SSB in 1982. In 1985, a Han-class SSN stayed under for 20,000 nautical miles and 84 days. Taking advantage of China’s new openness to foreign technology, the PLAN bought French DUUX-5 sonars for its submarines, while initiating a major program to decrease the acoustic signatures of its existing submarine fleet. As the Soviet threat receded under Gorbachev, the PLAN’s SSBN project apparently faced the threat of termination, but the successful submerged launch of a JL-1 from the newXia-class SSBN in 1988 kept it alive. Concurrently, major geopolitical shifts were underway that would provide new impetus to Chinese seapower as it neared the 21st century.

China’s only SSBN, the Xia, was laid down
in 1971 but only entered service in 1988. Displacing approximately 7,000 tons submerged on a length of 394 feet, she carries 12 Ju Lang-1 strategic missiles. The first of a new SSBN class, which will carry 16 JL-2 missiles, is already under construction and may be at sea as early as next year.

The first of the indigenously designed and produced Song-class conventionally-powered attack submarines was launched in 1994, and the ships have entered series production. They displace 1,700 tons surfaced and 2,250 tons submerged on a length of 246 feet and can launch anti-ship cruise missiles while underwater.


The PLAN ordered four “Kilo”-class diesel submarines from Russian in 1993, and all were delivered by 1998. In 2002, Beijing agreed to purchase eight more “Kilos”, with delivery scheduled for 2005-07. These very capable ships displace 2,350 tons surfaced and 3,126 tons submerged on a length of 242 feet, and they may be capable of firing the Russian SS-N-X-27 supersonic anti-ship cruise missile.

Today and Tomorrow

Pivotal events at that time were the Tiananmen Square Massacre in June 1989, the Persian Gulf War, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. These developments both eliminated the perception of a Russian threat and raised the specter of ideological and even military conflict with the increasingly powerful United States. Moreover, the ongoing Chinese economic miracle that started in 1978 created plentiful resources that could now be devoted safely to maritime defense, at a time when the poverty-stricken Russians were eager to oblige with aerospace and maritime technology at cut-rate prices.

Under the direction of submariner Admiral Zhang Lianzhong, the PLAN placed orders for four diesel submarines from the Russians in 1993: two export-version type 877 “Kilos” and two improved type 636 “Kilos,” all delivered by 1998. In 2002, Beijing agreed to purchase eight more type 636 “Kilos” with delivery to occur in 2005-07. As part of this deal, the Chinese reportedly will also acquire Russia’s lethal SS-N-X-27 supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles with a range of over 100 nautical miles. Moscow is also selling its advanced Test-71 and 53-56KE wake homing
torpedoes to Beijing, and China may have acquired Skval super-cavitating torpedoes.

These efforts are complemented by domestic production. In addition to retaining approximately 30 aging “Romeos” and continuing to build the derivative Ming class – with 20 now in the force – China has begun series production of its indigenously designed and manufactured Song class, the first of which was launched in 1991. The Songs – probably at least five, with eight or more under construction – incorporate advanced foreign technology and can launch anti-ship cruise missiles while submerged. China is also building the Type 093 SSN, with the first already nearing sea trials. Beijing boasts that this submarine will have performance equal to a Los Angeles-class SSN. Also on the ways is the Type 094 SSBN, which analysts expect at sea as early as 2005 with 16 8,000-kilometer nuclear-armed missiles.

PLAN leaders are ambitiously developing the human dimension of their underwater force as well by elevating the status of their professional non-commissioned officers in an effort to enhance and retain their skills. China’s admirals have also acknowledged that they have to compete for skilled labor by increasing the pay of some ranks by 100 percent in 1999-2000 – and the PLAN is aggressively increasing the number of officers holding advanced degrees. Training in the PLAN submarine force is strongly influenced by U.S. capabilities and operations. There is significant emphasis on mine
warfare, anti-surface warfare, and anti-submarine warfare – the latter a new mission for China’s undersea force. By as-signing two separate crews to train on one submarine, the PLAN is potentially laying the groundwork for a major future expansion.


A group of PLAN strategists summarized their analysis of the mid-1990s revolution in military affairs (RMA) as follows: “We can conclude that during the First World War, the dominant vessel was the battleship, and in World War Two, it was the aircraft carrier. In future global
wars, the most powerful weapon will be the submarine… [because] submarines will experience less impact from reconnaissance technology than other platforms.” Current developments suggest that this view reflects the dominant thinking of the PLA high command.

Even while suffering from slavish imitation, bizarre happenings, and tragic loss, the PLAN submarine force has embodied some of China’s most impressive technical achievements. Indeed, last April’s submarine accident was not the PLAN’s first nor will it be the last. However, the borrowed genesis and troubled adolescence of PLAN submarines should not obscure the fact that China has created a viable foundation for building a potent undersea fleet. Moreover, this newly-wealthy nation is well into a thorough modernization of its infrastructure for basic and applied research and its educational and management practices. China is well-positioned for rapid progress.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. and China have entered an unexpected period of bilateral cooperation. But even as Washington is clearly focused on more immediate problems in Iraq and elsewhere, Beijing’s military modernization continues at a rapid pace. War between the United States and a rising China is hardly inev-itable, particularly if our diplomats find a creative solution to the Taiwan issue, but if hostilities do break out, the American submarine force will undoubtedly be in the thick of the fight.

From Humble Origins China's Submarine Force Comes of Age
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Developments in China are especially interesting. That country certainly added a new dimension to IDEX’2013 and LIMA’2013 by participating in those shows with stands. The wares on display included a scaled model of the S20 diesel-electric submarine, the first-ever submersible vessel from China specially developed for export. With this, the People Republic of China has filed an application (figuratively speaking) to join the very narrow club of nations exporting conventional submarines. China comes in after two other recent applicants, South Korea and Spain. The latter country has split from France and is now returned to the field of submarine design and production in its own right, while South Korea is benefiting from German technology transfer.

LIMA’2013 was the first air and maritime show on the Malaysian holiday island of Langkawi to have a Chinese exhibitor with a stand. During conferences and press briefings at LIMA’2013, the Malaysian defense minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi touched on China several times. Answering a question whether Malaysian government and the military are concerned with growing Chinese naval might, and expanding presence, he answered: “They have been here for ever! We have lived with them by our side for centuries. We do not have issues with China”.

This explains the fact that China Shipbuilding & Offshore Co. Ltd. (CSOC, 欢迎来到中国船贸 actually received an invitation from the Malaysian side to take part in LIMA’2013. In other words, Chinese industry is now a welcomed partner for Malaysia, so that collaboration programs between the two countries shall be considered a future possibility. CSOC is a subsidiary of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), one of the two largest shipbuilding conglomerates in PRC with nearly a thousand enterprises and a workforce of 300,000.

A CSOC spokesman told media members that “LIMA is very impressive and interesting” and that his company “enjoys the opportunity to exchange information”. CSOC will certainly take part on the next show on Langkawi in 2015, he added. A number of countries in the region already operate ships built by CSOC. The spokesman said that the company is offering to its traditional overseas customers and potential clients landing platform docks (LPDs), frigates, fast craft and submarines, adding that exportable versions are similar to the baseline designs already in service with the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy (PLAN).

Information available on the S20 remains scarce: the Chinese manning their stands briefed spoke only to invited guests. Graphics indicated that the S20 can attack surface targets using “anti-ship missile”, lay “mines”, launch “torpedoes” (with no indication of intended targets) and release “frogman”. Nothing indicated the ability to launch the long-range CH-SS-NX-13 ASCM or any other sort of land-strike missiles (which might be of interest to some potential customers, knowing that PLAN’s diesel-electric boats are land-strike capable). The scaled model itself was relatively schematic, with no cutaways. It indicated presence of six torpedo tubes in the nose section and seven-blade propeller in the tail with highly curved blades.

In appearance, the S20 bears resemblance to the Yuan class or Type 041. The latter is believed to have an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, most likely employing Stirling type of engines (which, again, might be of interest to potential customers). By US estimates, the Yuan class possesses a lower relative detectability than the Song. By noise characteristics, the Yang is placed in between the Project 636 and the Type 039, according to Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).

Making an exportable version of the series produced Yang does make sense, as this promises reduced costs, parts commonality and interoperability with PLAN assets. Currently, China is known to have in series production only one diesel-electric boat, with 11 Type 041 vessels completed in 2009-2012 timeframe.

The potential of the local industry has allowed PLAN to keep a steady-state force of conventional submarine force at roughly 50 units throughout this century. Construction rate has been about 2.2 per year in 1995-2012 timeframe, with PLAN intake rising to 2.8 with Russian-built Kilo class included. Ever-growing potential of the local industry leaves little doubt about PRC’s ability to deliver obligations before foreign customers if there will be some making decision in favor of Chinese submarines.

Today, China is one of the established submarines operators, along with India, Pakistan, Iran, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and both Koreas. All of them continue building up their submarine fleets. Countries that recently added submarines to their assets or have placed orders include Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Naturally, this fact motivates other countries in the region to consider submersible assets for the navies of their own. "These facts give a clear indication of ongoing arms race in the region. We see a number of new nations coming to possess underwater capabilities and many more considering such a move", says Andrei Baranov who leads the exportable diesel electric submarine operations at Russia’s Rubin submarine designer. There are quite a few of disputed islands in the Asia-Pacific waters. Submarines are seen as the right argument in defending a smaller nation’s claims to these islands in the case when these are disputed by a larger nation with far bigger naval forces. "Submarines are the sort of weapons that can be successfully employed in the region", Baranov insists. "There are indications that many nations of the region are going to buy submarines… and buy them in worthwhile quantities", he continues. For example, Bangladesh indicated its intent to follow the trend as well as Thailand. The Philippines may also join in – though all these countries face budget constraints and competing demands on expenditure.

South East Asia is becoming a very lucrative market for shipbuilding companies. Traditional suppliers of such equipment in Germany, Russia and France hope for a big portion of orders. But they are to meet growing competition from within the region, notably from the Korean and Chinese manufacturers. Viewed from this perspective, the presence of those at IDEX and LIMA with their wares on display makes no surprise.

The sensitivity of the situation is that, while offering the S20 for export, China continues to import Russian submarines. In addition to 12 Kilos - the last batch of which was accepted in 2006 - PRC has recently ordered from Russia four submarines of the Amur 1650 design – which is similar to the S20. This fact might give a third country seeking to procure submarines a base to believe that the Russian design is somewhat more advanced. This, however, will hardly produce a worthwhile affect on the S20 target market. Its core is likely to be made of traditional clients for Chinese military equipment, the countries that receive help from China or in other ways dependant on PRC and motivated/inclined to buy “made in China” products.
Conventional submarine centre of gravity moves East | Asian Defence News Articles | Defence Review Asia


Yuan Type 039A / Type 041
The YUAN-class SSP is armed similarly to the SONG-class SS, but also includes an air-independent power system. The Yuan Type 039A [by 2007 some sources designated this class as the Type 041] is a non-nuclear powered attack submarine. As early as 1994 there were indications that China appeared to be attempting to build the Kilo in its own ship-yards [Richard Sharpe, Jane's Fighting Ships, 1994-1995 (Coulsdon, Surrey, Eng.: Jane's Information Group, 1994), p. 541]. The 2002 edition of Chinese Military Power noted that " the KILO provides Beijing with access to previously unavailable quieting and weapons technology. China most likely will try to incorporate aspects of this submarine into its domestic programs, although it will take several years before these technologies could be used effectively ..... China will continue using Russian technology to improve quieting, propulsion, and submarine design; it also is incorporating foreign technology into its existing submarines. China also will benefit from the maturation of its domestic submarine research and development (R&D) infrastructure to achieve a capability to design and manufacture modern submarines domestically."

Type 039A / Type 041 Yuan-class Design
The Yuan incorporates lessons from the PLAN's experience with the Kilo. The Yuan incorporates some of the best features of the Song and the Kilo. The Yuan class has a tail with diving planes similar to those of the Type 039G, and a Kilo-style teardrop shaped hull with a raised hump on top. The Yuan has the raised decking/casing of the Kilo, the high freeboard and reserve bouyancy, a similarly-shaped bow (and torpedo tube disposition), but with the sail, propeller layout and stern section of the Song. It has also been suggested that the new submarine may be comparable to the improved variant of the Russian Kilo class (Project 636) in terms of size and general performance.

Precise specifications for the Yuan are unclear, though it is evidently about as large as the 242 foot long Kilo and the 246 foot long Song, that is about 75 meters. Considereing the fact that this class is nearly a decade old, the new 2013 edition of Combat Fleets had surprsingly sparse information.

According to The Washington Times (July 16, 2004), American officials initially believed the submarine was diesel-powered. In March 2007 Jane's Navy International reported that the Yuan class was fitted with an AIP system developed by the No.711 Research Institute. Yuan is using an AIP engine of 100 kw in power, and is probably equipped with 2 such AIP engine. The Gotland submarines use 2 V4-275R stirling AIP units (each rated 75 kw). The larger Yuan obviously needs more powerful AIP units.

Study of a special engine, stare at the Institute of the China shipbuilding industry Corporation 711 developers for decades to build. In 1975, China ship Research Institute No. 711 Research Institute set up a special laboratory of engines, in June 1996, the establishment of specialized engine Engineering Research Center. After the "85", "95" studies have exceeded 12 key technologies. 1 years who owns full independent intellectual property rights was successfully developed China's first specialty engines after the prototype, they successfully developed a project prototype, the overall level has reached the international advanced level, some technology is an international leader.

Special engine research process, 711 Research Institute this as an opportunity to train a large number of technical backbone. From presiding at the beginning of the project, the team only if more than 10 people, which grew to more than 100 people. Emerging model of Shanghai, Shanghai Youth Science and technology and other advanced character of excellence, and that's what this team, was recognized as the people's Liberation Army General armament Department "researching advanced group", has twice been awarded the "Shanghai model workers collective".

Integrated with advanced noise reduction techniques including anechoic tiles, passive/active noise reduction, asymmetrical seven-blade skewed propeller, the 039A is expected to be as quiet as other modern diesel/electric powered submarines, and therefore much more difficult to be tracked. Apart from indigenously developed submarine weapon systems such as indigenous active/passive-hoyuan torpedo and the YJ-8 (C-801) submarine-launched anti-ship missile, the Yuan class may also be capable of launching the latest Russian weapons (or their Chinese copies) such as the TEST-71MKE wire-guided torpedo, the 53-65KE wave-hoyuan torpedo, and even 3M-54E Club supersonic submarine-launched anti-ship missile.

The electronic systems onboard the Yuan class may include CCD camera, infrared/thermal image camera, laser range-finder, surface-search radar and radar warning receiver. Various weapon systems and sensors are integrated by a digitized combat data command and control system.

Type 039A / Type 041 Yuan-class Program
The new Yuan Class attack submarine is part of a more general Chinese naval buildup. With the risk of armed conflict over Taiwan always present, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has invested heavily in submarines, with the goal of converting them into a first-line of attack vis-a-vis carriers.

It's existence was first noted in mid-2004 when a photograph of the completed submarine at China'sWuhan Shipyard was posted on a Chinese website. The Wuhan Shipyard had also built the Type 039/G (Song class), Type 035 (Yuan class), Type 033G (Wuhan-A class) and Type 033 (Romeo class) diesel-electric submarines for the PLA Navy. The first 039A completed sea trials in 2005. The second Yuan was said to have been launched in December 2004. While this second boat was rumored to be under construction, as of 2007 this was not confirmed. The delay in the construction of the second 039A suggests that the design might have suffered certain technical problems.

The precise role the Yuan will play in the future of the PLAN remained obscure as of 2007. With the earlier Song class remaining in production at a rate of two per year, it was unclear whether the Yuan design would remain an experimental side show, or form the prototypes for serial production after the year 2010.

By 2013 it had become clear that production of the Song had ceased with 3 units, with the Yuan taking up the slack, with at least 8 [Combart Fleets says 9] units in service by 2013. China may plan to construct up to 20 YUAN-class SSPs. Vice Admiral Albert H. Konetzni, Jr. USN (Retired), former Deputy Commander and Chief of Fleet Forces Command. Konetzni predicted that China might have 75 modern submarines by 2020 [Statement of Before the Projection Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee 28 March 2006].

S-20 Export Variant
Beijing based China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co. (CSOC) unveiled several new designs during IDEX 2013, the international defense exhibition held in the United Arab Emirates. At the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition in Malaysia from March 26 to 30, China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation again displayed its S-20 diesel-engine submarine. A model of that submarine was displayed at NAVDEX at Abu Dhabi in February 2013 for the first time ever. The Chinese staff participating in the exhibition said that S-20 was developed not merely for domestic demand but also for export on international market.

While there are clear difference between the S-20 and the Type 041, the former would appear to be the export variant of the later. S-20’s length is 66 meters [versus 73-75 meters for the Yuan], beam is 8 meters, draft is 8.2 meters, surface displacement is 1,850 tons and submerged displacement is 2,300 tons [both a bit less than the Yuan], maximum speed is 18 knots [a bit slower than the Yuan], cruise speed is 16 knots [the same as the Yuan], range is 8,000 nautical miles at 16 knots, endurance is 60 days and crew, 38 versus 58 for the Yuan. It is double hulled with maximum submerging depth of 300 meters. Different from the Type 041 exclusively for Chinese navy, the ship is not equipped with air-independent propulsion (but it may also be fitted with AIP (air-independent propulsion) system if a customer requests).

S-20 submarine is equipped with variable frequency hydrophonic detection device and towed sonar. The weapons fit may varry according to customer requirements but the S20 may accommodate heavy torpedoes and anti-ship missiles from six torpedo tubes and deploy mines and special forces. China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation gives no details about the types of weapon to be installed on S-20 submarine, but it declares that it may provide torpedoes, rocket-propelled torpedoes, anti-torpedo torpedoes, etc.

Type 039A / Type 041 Yuan-class Nomenclature
Khubilai Khan (1215-94) was a grandson of Genghis Khan (1167?-1227) and the supreme leader of all Mongol tribes. After the Song Dynasty had been destroyed in 1279, Khubilai Khan declared himself emperor of a united China with its capital at Dadu, and he established the Yuan ("first," "beginning") Dynasty (1279-1368). A rich cultural diversity evolved in China during the Yuan Dynasty, as it had in other periods of foreign dynastic rule. Major achievements included the development of drama and the novel and the increased use of the written vernacular. The introduction of foreign musical instruments enriched the Chinese performing arts. The conversion to Islam of growing numbers of people in northwestern and southwestern China dates from this period. The Mongols undertook extensive public works. Land and water communications were reorganized and improved. In time, Khubilai's successors became sinicized, and they then lost all influence on other Mongol lands across Asia. Rivalry among the Mongol imperial heirs, natural disasters, and numerous peasant uprisings led to the collapse of the Yuan dynasty. The last of the nine successors of Khubilai was expelled from Dadu in 1368 by Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Yuan Type 039A Type 041
Future Chinese 3000 ton class standard submarine with AIP

Displacement: 3,400 tons (submerged)
Length: 80 m
Beam: 10 m
Tubes: 533mm x 6
Weapons: 21 Torpedoes
Speed 13 knots surface, 21 knots submerged, 10 knots AIP mode
Depth: 450M
Duration: 60 days
Crew: 50


As there is increasing interest of pakistan in chinese subs, I decided to post some collective info on where the chinese subs stand

Chinese members are free to post related info
Rumors are that the Type 095 and Type 096 will soon be revealed. According to a test submarine configurations, the new technologies might include a VLS, new special forces hatch, new high speed torpedo, a new heat powered weapon, surface to air missiles, new ballistic missile, and underwater unmanned vehicle.

There is already an upgraded Type 093 at a naval base, dubbed by Internet observers the Type 093B, and there seems to be a new upgraded Type 094 as well.
China Launched a New Submarine Never Seen Before
Posted: December 15, 2013 Yuan-class | Tiananmen's Tremendous Achievements

China’s recently launched newest conventional submarine

Some photos with the caption “China’s most advanced conventional submarine was launched in the Yangtze River” have been posted and reblogged on the Internet in China. Western military media have recently shown great interest in them. It is a Chinese submarine never seen before. Western media believe that according to its appearance, it is China’s newest Yuan class submarine with much improvement in reducing noise and better underwater navigation performance for operation in deep water.

When the photos began to be reblogged on the Internet in early September, Western experts regarded them as Chinese web users’ pranks. However, when clearer photos have been posted, they do believe that it is a new Yuan class submarine. On September 23, globalstrategygroup.com of the United States gave the submarine the codename of 041C on its own, regarding it as an upgraded version of the Types 041A and 041B China previously built.

However, the previous Type 041A and 041B submarines look similar to Russian Kilo grade submarine, but the new one is similar to Russian Lada class instead of Kilo class.

Kilo class submarines are so wonderfully quiet as to be regarded “black holes” in the ocean, but Lada class is 8 times quieter.

Jane’s Defence Weekly also believes that the submarine is similar to Russian Lada class. It says that the submarine’s thick and strong hull and relatively short stern reduce drag when cruising under water. The curve of its sail hull is smoother and the sail is lower than that of previous Yuan class submarine. The curved casing of the sail hull that covers the connection between the sail hull and the main hull conforms better to fluid mechanics principles.

Source: qianzhan.com “PLA suddenly launched a new type of submarine never seen by foreign media” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

Related posts:

  • China Developing Super Quiet and Fast Strategic Nuclear Submarines dated July 26
  • Official on Successful Development of 4th-generation Nuclear Submarine in past decade dated August 20
  • Crew of New-type Nuclear Submarine Rewarded by Xi Jinping dated September 7
  • China’s Nuclear Submarines Able to Ambush Near the US for Sudden Second Strike dated November 6
  • Chinese Nuclear Submarine Not as Noisy as Described by the US dated November 7
  • Official Exposure of China’s Mystic 095 Attack Nuclear Submarine dated December 1

China Suddenly Launched New Submarine Similar to Russian Super Quiet Lada-class
Posted: October 24, 2013 |

China, advanced submarine, Yuan-class, Lada-class, quiet submarine

The submarine must be the newest Yuan-class one. The previous type of Yuan-class is similar to Russian Kilo-class one, but Jane’s Defense Weekly says that judging by the photos posted on the Internet, this one is similar to Russian Lada-class in shape.

A Lada-class submarine is covered with silencing tiles and equipped with quieter engine eight times more silent than Kilo-class. It is in addition better maneuverable.

Source: qianzhan.com “PLA’s sudden launch a submarine of the newest type amazed foreign media” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)

Related posts:

  • Secret Photos of Various Types of Chinese Navy’s Core of Submarines Made Public dated October 7
  • China: Crew of New-type Nuclear Submarine Rewarded by Xi Jinping dated September 7
  • China: Official on Successful Development of 4th-generation Nuclear Submarine in past decade dated August 20
  • China Developing Super Quiet and Fast Strategic Nuclear Submarines dated July 26

Lots of China’s New Submarines with European and Russian Technology
Posted: April 19, 2013 |

According to a report at Russian Military Messenger Net, Nekolai Novichkov, chief editor of the military column of ITAR-TASS, and a commentator of the column have published an article on Military Messenger Weekly that gives an analysis of the consequence of Russian export of Amur-class conventional submarines to China. They point out that the new S-20 submarine that China recently displays is able to carry anti-ship missiles. Its first batch of potential buyers perhaps includes Pakistan and Bangladesh. The article also says that judging by satellite photos, China has built seven or eight Yuan-class diesel-engine submarines since September 2004 and had commissioned four Type 041 submarines by early 2012.

The following is the full text of the article at Russian Military Messenger Net:

The two writers point out: China is now striving to become an exporter of modern conventional submarines. For that purpose, China is thirsty of the newest submarine technology. As soon as China emerges as a producer on global submarine market, it will not only affect French and Swedish market shares, but also deal a blow at the two leaders in conventional submarine market: Germany and Russia.

At the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition in Malaysia from March 26 to 30, China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation again displayed its S-20 diesel-engine submarine. A model of that submarine was displayed at NAVDEX at Abu Dhabi in February this year for the first time ever. The Chinese staff participating in the exhibition said that S-20 was developed not merely for domestic demand but also for export on international market.

S-20 submarine has 6 torpedo launching tubes at its bow. The structure of its driving cabin and stern looks more similar to a diminished copy of Yuan-class conventional submarine. It is necessary to point out that the submarine has been developed on the basis of the Russian and European technology obtained specially for Type 041 to be used by Chinese navy. Naval experts believe that S-20’s first batch of potential buyers may probably be Pakistan and Bangladesh.

China’s Type 041 conventional submarine was first found in 2004. On February 27 that year a US reconnoiter satellite found a submarine of that type at a shipyard in Wuhan Shipbuilding Plant. Since then, Chinese navy has commissioned one by one 7 to 8 Type 041 submarines. US Defense Ministry forecast in 2010 that China will build 15 submarines of that new type.

US reconnoiter satellite did not find any trace of Yuan-class submarine in the period from 2005 to 2006. That is understandable: According to China’s strategy of submarine construction. The first submarine shall undergo a series of tests for a relatively long duration of time. It was not until September 21, 2007 that a Yuan-class submarine was found again. Experts believe that the submarine found then was the second Type 041 submarine (the first built by mass production). On November 27 the same year two more such submarines appeared at Wuhan Shipbuilding Plant, which experts believe were the second and third Type 041 submarines.

Later, the two submarines both sailed out to undergo tests for a long time because according to satellite photos taken in 2009, no Type 041 was found at Wuhan Shipbuilding Plant. It was not until December 7, 2010, a reconnoiter satellite found three submarines of that type at Wuhan Shipbuilding Plant. On April 26, 2011 photos taken by satellites revealed that construction of one Type 041 submarine had completed and the ship was sailing to Shanghai.

That means that judging by satellite photos, since September 2004, China has built 7 or 8 Yuan-class diesel-electric submarines, of which the first one (no. 330) was commissioned in 2006. In early 2012, four Type 041 submarines (nos. 330-333) were in service, one more, being built and three more, to be built.

As for S-20 submarines for export, there are clear difference between it and Type 041. S-20’s length is 66 meters, beam, 8 meters, draft, 8.2 meters, surface displacement, 1850 tons, submerged displacement, 2,300 tons, maximum speed, 18 knots, cruise speed, 16 knots, range, 8,000 nautical miles at 16 knots, endurance, 60 days and crew, 38. It is double hulled with maximum submerging depth of 300 meters. Different from the Type 041 exclusively for Chinese navy, the ship is not equipped with air-independent propulsion (but can be installed on demand).

S-20 submarine is equipped with variable frequency hydrophonic detection device and towed sonar. Its major weapons include torpedoes, naval mines, anti-ship missiles, etc. China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation gives no details about the types of weapon to be installed on S-20 submarine, but it declares that it may provide torpedoes, rocket-propelled torpedoes, anti-torpedo torpedoes, etc.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Russian media: quite a few China’s new submarines found by satellite; their technology originated from Russia and Europe”

Related posts:
China to build 15 more Yuan-class submarines with German engines
China to Buy Super Quiet Russian Submarines to Counter US Aircraft Carrier

China to build 15 more Yuan-class submarines with German engines
Posted: April 11, 2013 |

Chinese submarine in Indian Ocean

[China’s Shocking Submarine Manufacture Technology]

Hindustan Times said in its report on April 9: China is scaling up its underwater capabilities, the Indian Navy’s submarine force levels will be the lowest in its history by 2015, a confidential defense ministry report has revealed.

In comparison, “China may plan to construct 15 additional Yuan-class attack submarines, based on German diesel engine purchases.” “It is said the Yuan-class submarines could be equipped with air-independent propulsion systems to recharge their batteries without having to surface for more than three weeks, a capability currently unavailable with the Indian Navy,” said the newspaper.

In addition, China is purchasing advanced submarines from abroad. It has ordered 4 Russian Lada-class submarines, which are believed to be 8 times less noisy than Kilo-class ones.

China will purchase German engines to build 15 more Yuan-class submarines
The [confidential’ report said: By the end of 2015, Indian “navy will be left with merely six to seven submarines, including India’s first and only nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant, as it begans phasing out the Russian Kilo-class submarines and German HDW Type 209 submarines.”

“The report warned India had ‘never before been poised in such a vulnerable situation’ and the undersea force levels were ‘at a highly precarious state’.

“The size of India's submarine fleet will roughly be the same as that of the Pakistani Navy in two years. ‘As this critical (undersea) capability is eroded, there is an inverse increase in both capability and strength of the Chinese and Pakistani navies,’ the [confidential] report stated.”

The newspaper says, “Six Scorpene submarines are currently being built at the Mazagon Dock Ltd in Mumbai with technology from French firm DCNS under a Rs. 23,562-crore project codenamed P-75.

“But the first of these boats will not be ready before 2016-17, though it should have been commissioned into the navy last year. The report said the delay had set off a capability gap that will widen in the coming years.”

In comparison, China now has 13 Song-class, 12 Kilo-class, 7 Yuan-class and 18 Ming-class submarines. China only has 3 Han-class nuclear attack nuclear submarines as regarding nuclear submarines, China still faces lots of challenges. Nevertheless, Han-class attack nuclear submarines have been launched, that type of submarine is very noisy and easy to be discovered by Western sensors. From 1974 to 1991, China built 5 Han-class submarines, two of which have been decommissioned.

China has also commissioned 4 relatively new Shuang-class nuclear submarines, but they are similarly noisy. At the same time, Chinese navy have designed and built Type 039 Song-class submarine, which was designed and manufactured with stress on silencing effect. That class of submarines have been developed very quickly and the newest 4 Song-class submarines have been designated as Yuan-class (type 039A or 041) submarines. According to the Indian report, in consideration of China’s purchase of German diesel engines, China perhaps plans to build 15 additional Yuan-class submarines. It is said the Yuan-class submarines could be equipped with air-independent propulsion systems to recharge their batteries without having to surface for more than three weeks, a capability currently unavailable with the Indian Navy,” said the newspaper.

Type 039 submarine emerged for the first time in 2001. China has built 13 of them, but in 2008, an obviously different Type 039 submarine emerged. That type of submarine is referred to as Type 039A or 041 submarine. Having built two Type 039A submarines, China built two submarines of a type derived from Type 039 with the code name of 039B. That evolution is going on. At present, China has already had 6 or 7 Type 041 Yuan-class submarines (including at least three different types). The newest version of that type of submarines is obviously equipped with air-independent propulsion system and new type of electronic equipment and is undergoing internal improvement.

The quick evolution of Type 039 submarine is perhaps an example of the incorporation of Russian submarine technology in the design ideas and new technology in that type of submarine. Since China began to build submarines in the 1960s, China has always been doing so. However, the design of the newest Type 41 indicates that Chinese navy’s engineers have already had more creative ideas.

It is believed that two or even more Yuan-class submarines are equipped with the air-independent propulsion system that enables them to stay for as long as two weeks under water. Western countries’ air-independent propulsion systems enable submarines to stay under water for two weeks or longer, but the functions and reliability of Chinese ones are a little inferior to similar Russian or Western ones. China will keep on improving its air-independent propulsion system just as it is doing in other areas of military technology.

Song-class submarine is very similar to Russian Kilo-class submarine in appearance. Both Types 039 and 041 are 1800-ton grade, carry a crew of 60 and are installed with 6 tornado tubes. That is also very similar to Kilo-class submarine, which is only a little larger. In late 1990s, China began to purchase Russian Kilo-class submarines. At that time, it was the most advanced submarine available to China. The first two Type 041 submarines are obviously copies of the early type (Type 877) of Kilo-class submarine, but the next two seem to be copies of the relatively new Type 636 submarine.

The newest Yuan-class submarines still look very similar to Kilo-class submarine, but there may be evolution to make them similar to Lada-class submarine. Type 039 is the first Chinese submarine with teardrop hull. Type 041 submarine is regarded as an improved version of Song-class submarine, but upon careful observation especially in Russian perspective, that type of submarine looks like a copy of Kilo-class submarine. Russian people believe the entire project of Song/Yuan-class submarine is China’s long-term plan to successfully copy Kilo-class submarines. If that is the case, Chinese efforts seem quite successful.
The Type 032 submarine (NATO code name Qingclass) is a class of diesel-electric submarine currently undergoing testing in China's People's Liberation Army Navy. It is said to be the world's largest conventional submarine, at a submerged displacement of 6628 tons and is able to submerge for a maximum of 30 days. The Type 032 has a similar ventral "bay" to the Golf class submarinethat protrudes downward.
It's a test bed for Chinese domestic sub-launched cruise missile, new escape cabin and new sub-launced ICBM.
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