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SUBMARINES: The Chinese Submarine Building Program
StrategyPage ^ | 5/24/04 | Sid Trevethan

Posted on 05/24/2004 5:27:29 PM PDT by LibWhacker

May 24, 2004: The Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) regards its submarine force as its first line naval force. Not without reason. Only the submarine force has nuclear powered ships. More importantly, Chinese submarines pose the most significant threat to hostile naval forces, especially U.S. Navy carrier battle groups. The Chinese submarine force is undergoing rapid conversion to modern propulsion, sensor and weapons technologies. At the same time, serious measures have been taken to reduce noise levels and increase the effectiveness of the crews.

The elite portion of the submarine force is its nuclear powered ships. Submarines are officially "ships" in the PLAN, rather than "boats" as in other navies. The Chinese nuclear submarine force was long mainly a paper threat. The original half a dozen nuclear submarines (5 Han attack boats and a single Xia which is nominally a ballistic missile sub) were the most noisy nuclear submarines ever built. Worse, they had terrible problems with radiation leaks in the reactor coolant system. The first of these subs was completed in 1974, but not operational until the 1980s because so many design and construction flaws had to be corrected. During the 1990s, an extensive program was undertaken to rebuild them all. Rumored to have been re-engined with French reactors (replacing the original German ones). U.S. Navy intelligence believes that, instead, the entire reactor coolant system was rebuilt. The Chinese subs had their electronics and sonar systems replaced with French equipment, and three may have been fitted with C-801 Ynng Ji 8 (Eagle Strike) ASCM (submarine launched cruise missile). Interestingly, the single Xia class sub, although used for missile launch trials, has never deployed with operational ballistic missiles, and apparently has been added to the force as an attack submarine. Supporting this theory are reports indicating the JL-1 and JL-1A ballistic missile (designed for Xia) never entered mass production nor were warheads manufactured for them.

Meanwhile, the first of the new 093 class SSN is nearing completion this year. A second of the 093 class has already been launched and two or more additional units are eventually expected to be built. These submarines, built with Russian technical advice, are similar to the Russian Victor III class. They have been modified to use the new Chinese land attack cruise missile (HN-3). The 093s are considered to be “very quiet.” A new missile submarine (type 094) has also begun construction. It is reportedly designed to use a sea based version of a land based ICBM (known as JL-2 in naval form). This missile could reach US targets from Chinese waters.

Potentially more significant is the rapidly expanding conventional submarine force. Typical of PLAN programs, there are parallel domestic and foreign weapons systems. Most famous, perhaps, is the purchase of four Russian Kilo class submarines, including two of the more advanced Project 636 types. More ominously, China ordered an additional eight units of this class, for simultaneous delivery in 2006, and it appears all will be delivered by 2007. These are superb submarines, quieter than most of the world’s nuclear submarines (when not recharging batteries with their diesel engines), and outfitted with very good sensors and torpedoes.

Less well understood are the newer domestic submarine classes. The first of these, called Ming, has completed production. But one of these boats was used to test a form of AIP (Air Independent Propulsion), and the final series of six was built to use the best sonar and torpedoes available and also reportedly use AIP. With a workable AIP, these subs could stay underwater for weeks, and be quieter than American nuclear subs.

The other domestic class is the Song. Subject to protracted development, it required a substantial redesign, so that the first ships produced were considered a subclass, called Song I. There are now six Song II, all with AIP, and all fitted to fire the same ASCM as the later Han SSNs (YJ-8). Often reported to be fired from separate tubes, in fact these missiles are torpedo tube launched weapons.

Taken together, these modern submarines represent a very significant capability. They are as quiet as the US Los Angelus class, and those with AIP do not have to use noisy diesel engines to recharge their batteries for weeks. The Song class subs are still building at a rate of one a year.

Finally, the PLAN continues to operate significant (but declining) numbers of Romeo class submarines. Copied from a Russian design, those still in service have also had new French sonar equipment installed. There are about 36 of these ships, but only about 21 active duty crews to serve them. The PLAN does not associate a crew with a specific submarine. Crews live ashore and are assigned a sub for a given mission. The Romeo class submarines might be significant as minelayers, as bait for anti-SSN traps, and as threats to merchant shipping.

A final note about the PLAN submarine force. Long thought to use inferior Chinese designed torpedoes, it is entirely equipped with Russian torpedoes. The Yu-1 torpedo is the Russian Type 53-51, the Yu-3 is the SET-65E, the Yu-4 is the SET-60, the Yu-5 is the TEST-71/96 and the Yu-6 is the Type 53-65 (which has been compared to the Mark 48). Only the newer boats are fitted to use the Yu-5 and Yu-6.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: armsbuildup; china; chinese; chinesenavy; france; program; ramonstock; raymondstock; raystock; russia; submarine
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To: steplock

I thought that congress put a hault to those? I know that they were supposed to take over the Long Beach one but wasnt a stop put to the whole deal?

Nothin shocks me anymore. Dam polititions will sell their souls for a nickel.

21 posted on 05/24/2004 6:09:35 PM PDT by crz
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To: LibWhacker

like the supersonic Silkworm missiles - maybe the govt is going by the old saying "if you don't see it or hear it, it can't hurt you?"

with these new weapons, it can almost be true ... you won't feel a thing when you are in a billion particles.

22 posted on 05/24/2004 6:09:45 PM PDT by steplock (
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To: rmmcdaniell
What has Bush done to correct this problem?

Dubya can't do this on his own, not when half the Congress seems to hate the United States. He's not a dictator. In truth, Nixon opened the door to China, to cater to liberal historians and to assure his legacy . . . In other words, he caved to 'rat opinion. IMHO.

23 posted on 05/24/2004 6:13:06 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: knarf; jim macomber
The Chinese are arming in a major way for naval warfare. It does not take too much analysis to determine who their major adversary will be.

...and it is our money that is allowing them to fund this.

The Rising Sea Dragon in Asia.

This is one of the principle reasons I wrote the:


A techno-thriller series about America and World War III

24 posted on 05/24/2004 6:13:18 PM PDT by Jeff Head (
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To: LibWhacker

093s appear to be a highly destablizing factor on the face of it. Because aggreements such as the SALT series do not include the PRC as a signatory, they can pretty much bulk up to their heart's desire limited only by their spend and their will. Meanwhile, the US are disarming in terms of ICBMs. How can we call the PRC a "competitive partner" with a straight face when they are behaving the way the USSR was behaving round about the early 1960s?

25 posted on 05/24/2004 6:15:40 PM PDT by GOP_1900AD (Stomping on "PC," destroying the Left, and smoking out faux "conservatives" - Right makes right!)
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To: LibWhacker

We got a friend in Japan..I hope. The Japanese see right through the Reds and are starting to re-arm. The faster the better as far as I am concerned. They have and can handle the Chinese.

Then the Aussies. As far as Tiawan is concerned-they are toast.

How long did it take the Red Chinese to march through Viet Nam or that area after we left and they got into a tussle down there? What was it? Three weeks? And we didnt do it in how long?

26 posted on 05/24/2004 6:16:45 PM PDT by crz
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To: LibWhacker

Has President Bush given even ONE primetime speech about the threat that China poses?

27 posted on 05/24/2004 6:17:40 PM PDT by inflation (Cuba = BAD, China = Good? Why, should both be treated the way Cuba is?)
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To: LibWhacker; All
These submarines, built with Russian technical advice, are similar to the Russian Victor III class.

And how were the Russians able to build such quiet submarines? Toshiba sold them computer controlled machine tools to fab their propellers. They were found guilty by an international court and sentenced to a meaningless fine. Click here

This single act has undoubtedly cost the taxpayers of this country billions in order to develop new methods of detecting Russian subs and could cost us our freedom in the future.

Boycott Toshiba forever!

28 posted on 05/24/2004 6:19:44 PM PDT by Rockitz (After all these years, it's still rocket science.)
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To: murdocj
Great article and great blog you've got there, Murdocj. Thanks!

It's a given: The enemy will come at us asymmetrically. It's all he can do. If we give up the weapons that won the Cold War for us, he'll come back at us from that angle again. And then it'll be all over for us. We must keep the old while adjusting to the new, imho!

29 posted on 05/24/2004 6:21:57 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: TalBlack
For 200 MPH, it would have to be rocket powered. But then there could be no guidance communication between the torpedo and the launching sub, or cavitation sound from the target. Way too much noise.
30 posted on 05/24/2004 6:38:53 PM PDT by chainsaw (
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To: spetznaz

"Hope that answers your questions."

Yes, thank you.

The article specifically spoke of the Chinese working to get this technology (on maybe?). It lit me up because I had always thought that if I were the Chicoms I would want to obviate the carrier groups that allow the US to project power the way we do.

I've been wondering ever since what the story was on the development. No mention was made about the torpedoes limitations as you have described. It sounded like one terrifying piece of ordinance.

31 posted on 05/24/2004 6:44:28 PM PDT by TalBlack ("Tal, no song means anything without someone else....")
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To: LibWhacker
The Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) undergoing rapid conversion to modern propulsion, sensor and weapons technologies.

Thanks but no thanks WalMart.

32 posted on 05/24/2004 6:46:47 PM PDT by Darheel (Visit the strange and wonderful.)
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To: crz
"And we didnt do it in how long?"

We weren't "allowed" to win in Korea or Vietnam.

33 posted on 05/24/2004 6:48:29 PM PDT by Darheel (Visit the strange and wonderful.)
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To: steplock

China is modernizing and helping N. Korea. Both are selling weapons, incl. radiologicals, to Middle Eastern states (along with our good friends, the French) . . . We better get our heads out soon, or the 60s and 70s will seem like a picnic. :-(

34 posted on 05/24/2004 6:54:31 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: inflation

If he gave such a speech, a very large percentage of the CEOs in the US, no matter what party they officially belong to, would immediately start to plan for his demise. My observation is as follows. It is an observation which comes from comparing the average CEO 100 years ago with ones today. 100 years ago, it was OK for a CEO to be a nationalist - an unashamed pro-USA, properly biggotted (in the good sense) nationalist. Today's CEO may not even be native born, let alone a citizen. And even if they are, they have to tow the globalist line in their circle of friends. They are punished in terms of career growth if they ever do or say anything that would come off as "old style conservative." This is Bush' dilemma. At a time in history where Clausewitzian geopolitics and anti globalism are needed, he has no freedom to act in the most geopolitically effective manner. He knows, and some of us know, that the politically incorrect direction is what is needed now more than ever. But the liberals, Leftists and the dispicable 3rd way amongst our own camp, will destroy Bush if he doesn't tow the utopian, suicidal, flacid line. In the twisted rule book of the anti Clausewitzians, it's OK to get all fired up about terrorists and rogue states. And indeed we should get fired up about them. But, in that twisted book, getting fired up about great powers simply flies in the face of Francis Fukuyama's Fractured Fairy Tales, and Thomas L. Freakman's Fast World of the Imagination. It implies the potential for great war and this simply cannot be faced.

35 posted on 05/24/2004 7:13:38 PM PDT by GOP_1900AD (Stomping on "PC," destroying the Left, and smoking out faux "conservatives" - Right makes right!)
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To: LibWhacker
This is little more than silly school-girl hysteria on the part of the writer.....

10 Virginia-class subs of the US fleet could sink every other capital ship IN THE WORLD in just a few days.....with impunity. Not only that, our boats are at sea and we could put most of them at sea on VERY short notice. When you combine that with our integrated ASW system (airborne , shipborne and worldwide passive detection) it'd be little more than a turkey shoot.

Our domination of the seas will continue for at least a couple of decades even if no further systems are deployed. Any navy that dares challenges us will have a short, but exciting life.

36 posted on 05/24/2004 7:30:24 PM PDT by Mariner
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To: Mariner

Presumably the rest of the world knows this, so why are the Chinese spending billions on what would be "cannon fodder", according to you?

Just asking.

37 posted on 05/24/2004 7:56:16 PM PDT by ABrit
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To: LibWhacker

More of them stayed here than left. And if they hadn't stayed, the US wouldn't be where it is today. I'm friends with the children of those that stayed and they're as patriotic as anyone. Their parents are greater successes here than they possibly could've been in China and they know it. They are not just the kids of China's political elite. It would be better for the US to attract those bright students and get them to stay rather than keep them out or drive them out. They would just go elsewhere to get a similar education and then go back to China. Even today, there are over 400,000 European researchers in the US because it's the best place to conduct high level research.

At Pfizer La Jolla where my brother works, over a 1/3 of the researchers are from outside the US. Many are Chinese nationals on their way to becoming US citizens and plenty are kids of Chinese nationals who emigrated here in the 70's. (The largest contingent are Canadians but I'm guessing you don't have a problem with them.) The US has acted as a brain drain on the rest of the world for decades and continues to do so. Good thing too or the US wouldn't have its huge technological lead. If you want to stop immigration, there are two groups that I'd go after before grad students: Muslims and illegals.

A family friend's life and career was stalled because a white fellow co-worker falsely accused him of selling secrets to the Chinese in order to get a promotion both had been considered for. A year long FBI investigation cleared him but his career at Raytheon was finished. He started multi-million dollar semi-conductor fabicration plants in China, Taiwan and the US a few years later. It's this type of BS that is causing a higher percentage of grad students (Chinese included) to go back to their country of origin rather than stay (as the majority used to).

Every country has talent that can improve upon technology. China has a billion people people to draw from and I'm not so myopic as not to give them credit for their inventions, developments or improvements even if they used other's technology. No one country is responsible for all development. The US even used Nazi and Imperial Japan's research after WWII.

38 posted on 05/24/2004 7:58:01 PM PDT by pragmatic_asian
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To: crz

The Red Chinese have never marched through Viet Nam. They tried a little 8 day incursion after we left......and were soundly trounced.

39 posted on 05/24/2004 7:58:36 PM PDT by Mariner
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To: ABrit

The reason the Chinese want a navy is becuase India wants a navy......and the Russians already have one.

40 posted on 05/24/2004 8:03:25 PM PDT by Mariner
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