Chinese navy prepares to launch three new and upgraded nuclear submarines

The submarines will be the most advanced in the PLA navy to date

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The Chinese Navy is preparing to commission three nuclear-powered attack submarines with the capability to fire supersonic anti-ship missiles, according to reports.

Earlier this week the China Central Television showed satellite images of three submarines anchored at an unidentified port.

They claimed that they were China’s most advanced Type-093G attack submarines.

The submarines are said to be an upgrade of the Type-093, which entered service several years ago and advancements include a longer teardrop hull and a vertical missile launching system, according to a report by China Daily.

According to the report the new variant is engineered to reduce noise, improve speed and mobility and fire the latest YJ-18 supersonic anti-ship missile, capable of causing significant damage to aircraft carriers.

China established its nuclear-powered submarine force in the 1970s but it was never openly revealed to the outside world until 2009 when two nuclear submarines took part in a parade marking the 60th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army navy’s founding.

Chi Yiliang, editor-in-chief of Modern Ships magazine, told China Daily: “Though China was comparatively late in developing advanced nuclear-powered submarines such as the Type -093G, we used a lot of the most cutting-edge technologies and equipment on our submarines, enabling them to compete with their foreign counterparts.”

Yin Zhuo, a senior expert with the navy, also spoke to China Daily: “Judging from the vessel’s design, the Type-093G should have strong anti-ship and counter-submarine capabilities. It is also likely to be upgraded with the capability of striking land targets with cruise missiles in the near future.”

The announcement comes after U.S Navy leaders told congress leaders in February that China now operates a greater number of attack submarines than the US military and is rapidly expanding the scope of its undersea missions and patrols.

Speaking before the House’s Seapower and Projections Force’s subcommittee Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy said that the Chinese Navy had rapidly expanded their undersea missions and patrols, according, according to Millitary.com.

“They are deploying some fairly amazing submarines. They’ve now had three deployments in the Indian Ocean. They are expanding where their submarines go.

“We know they are out experimenting and working and operating and certainly want to be in the world of advanced submarines.”

Mulloy cited Chinese production and testing of submarine launched weapons and said that one SSBN, or ballistic missile submarine capable of launching ballistic weapons, undertook a 95-day sea patrol.

This provoked speculation that nuclear-armed Chinese ballistic missile submarines would have the ability to strike at parts of Alaska and Hawaii from undersea locations in the Pacific.

The issue of Chinese naval and submarine development was addressed in the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s annual report to Congress in December last year, again reported by Military.com.

The commission said that Chinese plans for modernisation call for a rise in the number of attack submarines and SSBNs. Chinese SSBNs are now able to patrol with nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles that are capable of striking targets as far as 4,500 nautical miles away.

The commission also commented on areas of Chinese-Russian military developmental cooperation, saying that the two countries were working together on a joint deal to build new attack submarines.

The Commission wrote: “China is pursuing joint-design and production of four to six Russian advanced diesel-electric attack submarines containing Russia’s latest submarine sonar, propulsion, and quieting technology.

“The deal would improve the PLA Navy’s capabilities and assist China’s development of quiet submarines, thus complicating future US efforts to track and counter the PLA submarines.”

While it said that that the exact amount of Chinese military spending is difficult to identify, China’s projected defence spending for 2013 was estimated at $131 billion, around a sixth of what the US spends annually.

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