China’s Submarine Fleet Takes Historic Steps Forward

China SubChina’s submarine fleet made its first known trip into the Indian Ocean, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. A Chinese attack submarine passed through the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia with sightings near Sri Lanka and the Persian Gulf.

It’s the latest report of the significant steps forward the Chinese navy has taken in advancing its submarine fleet. Earlier this year, a U.S. Navy report estimated that the Chinese navy has nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines able to launch strikes against the United States from the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

The Chinese navy has ambitious plans over the next 15 years to rapidly advance its fleet of surface ships and submarines as well as maritime weapons and sensors, according to a report by the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Earlier this year, ONI issued an assessment on the Chinese navy as part of testimony to the U.S. China Economic and Security Review. ONI leaders found that China’s navy has evolved from a littoral force to one that is capable of meeting a wide range of missions to include being “increasingly capable of striking targets hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland.”

The Chinese navy has 77 surface combatants, more than 60 submarines, 55 amphibious ships and about 85 missile-equipped small ships, according to the report first published by the U.S. Naval Institute.

ONI raised concerns about China’s fast-growing submarine force, to include the Jin-class ballistic nuclear submarines, which were expected to commence deterrent patrols in 2014. The expected operational deployment of the Jin “would mark China’s first credible at-sea-second-strike nuclear capability,” the report states.

The submarine could fire the JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missile, which has a range of 4,000 nautical miles and would “enable the Jin to strike Hawaii, Alaska and possibly western portions of CONUS [continental United States] from East Asian waters,” ONI assessed.

In addition, a 2014 Pentagon Annual Report to Congress on military and security developments said the Chinese have three operational Jin-class SSBNs (ballistic missile submarines) and up to five may enter service before the Chinese proceeds toward a next-generation SSBN.

The ONI report says the Chinese currently have five nuclear attack submarines, four nuclear ballistic missile submarines and 53 diesel attack submarines.

Overall, China’s fleet of submarines has quickly increased in offensive weapons technology over the last 10 years. A decade ago, only a few Chinese submarines could fire modern anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs). Now, more than half of the conventional attack submarines are configured to fire ASCMs, the ONI report states.

“The type-095 guided missile attack submarine, which China will likely construct over the next decade, may be equipped with a land-attack capability,” the assessment explains. This could enable Chinese submarines with an enhanced ability to strike U.S. bases throughout the region, the report adds.

The Pentagon’s China report affirms that the expected deployment of nuclear-armed JL-2s will, for the first time, give China an at-sea nuclear deterrent capability.

One analyst said the Chinese appear to be trying to position themselves as a nuclear global super power able to both assert regional dominance and project power around the world.

”China clearly appears to be pursuing a great power nuclear-deterrence strategy. They are making progress but it is not fast paced. It is kind of appropriate for a military that has two missions, guaranteed deterrence and an interest in showing its ability as a superpower,” said Daniel Goure, vice president of the Lexington Institute, a Va.-based think tank.

In recent decades, the Chinese military has had more of a regional focus instead of ICMBs, something which may now be changing in light of growing ambitions, continued rapid technological expansion and military modernization, Goure explained.

“We know from watching the Soviets how hard it is for these countries to build western-equivalent militaries and nuclear enterprises. The Russians almost broke trying to build a Navy that would out do us,” he added.

However, Goure added that the Chinese navy has a long way to go before it could emerge as a credible competitor to the U.S. Navy.

“Are they really going to go the route of building their own kind of competitor to the U.S. Navy? That is expensive and difficult – at a time when their economy is slowing down,” Goure said.

The Navy’s Atlantic Fleet submarine commander recently voiced concern about China’s submarine modernization efforts.

“The world has become multi-polar and we have competition for global influence and power from a rising China – which is very much on our mind. The Chinese have had ballistic missile submarines in some form for a while. Their pace has accelerated and they have several nuclear ballistic missile submarines and are continuing to build more,” said Vice Adm. Michael Connor.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • derp

    A war between China and India would be a great thing for the US right now. Where’s the CIA on making that happen?

    • guest

      Some say they created ( inadvertently) the Colombian drug lords ( Central America anti communist gone wrong), the Taliban ( Afghan anti soviet) and now ISIS ( anti Assad and Iraq mess).
      Central Asia and or Tibet is a more likely trouble spot (Uighurs)

      • anthony

        The drug war was a idea from cia wich led President Reagan to call a all out war on drugs,But the poppies our troops stepped on is sickening our youth,Look at Detroit bought by a Casino owner? I truly hope he rebuilds all them homes for the good old U.S.A.

        • nails

          Nixon called out the all-out war on drugs, not Reagan, but your point is coherent enough to almost understand.

    • edgy

      Scheming day n night, 24/7/365

    • @Marine0846

      Are you insane ?

      • derp

        Like a fox.

        A bloodthirsty, America loving fox

    • anthony

      That would be a good idea lets not talk to loud maybe they are working on it!

    • JohnQ

      Yes, they are both to some degree (India much less) potential adversaries of the U.S., but still, a war between them would be terrible for us (if you care about the economy). Think about what a war between two countries with nukes (even if they don’t use them) would do to world markets and employment

    • chuckiechan

      It sounds as if they are getting ready to enforce the “Dash 9 Line”, and threaten a nuclear war to do it.

      And don’t get stupid and comment unless you know what the Dash 9 line is.

    • chuckiechan

      I can only hope we are sending false data in data breeches, and also hacking their CNC designs to make subtle changes in tolerances that will buckle under stress.

      They already have a severe problem of counterfeiting and falsely labeled parts holding their world together, and I suspect their subs are no different.

      I’ve seen Chinese 304 stainless steel rust. So you can be sure they have the same faulty alloys they are selling us.

  • Lance

    Yeah and before Bill Clinton sold china ballistic computers most of there missiles blew up on the launch pads. I think its a clear threat but face it, China’s tech sucks and its more of the Russians selling them the weapons than it copying our weapons that keeping them a real threat to peace in the far east.

    • guest

      Ballistic computers ? Is that when they crash the hardrive just when u need it most and its the shortest distance to rubbish bin

    • Kurt Montandon

      >Bill Clinton sold china ballistic computers

      Hey, look, that thing that never happened.

    • PolicyWonk

      While the Clinton did permit the transfer of some missile technologies, that is *nothing* compared to the damage done by his successor. Go and read Patrick Buchanan’s many editorials on the topic. That administration permitted the wholesale transfer of 10’s of thousands of dual-use technologies to the ChiComs, in addition to the hard-won manufacturing techniques, and the strategic manufacturing base: all in return for the short term profits realized by their corporate donors.

      All 16 US national intelligence agencies (see the NIE 2007, and 2008) classified that as a massive national security disaster. And not only for the US - but all our allies as well.

      As if that wasn’t bad enough - the 8M+ jobs that were permanently lost meant billions of tax dollars no longer flowing into the US treasury - and now all those previously employed/taxpaying citizens are on welfare and food stamp programs.

      Hence - in short - Clinton’s successor sold out the national security of the United States. And thats according to our National Intelligence agencies, and Patrick Buchanan, who complained about it for years - alas - to deaf ears.

      • 7113

        TROLL

        • Darnell Thrasher

          Let me get this straight. If you blame a democrat for something on this site its ok but if your dare criticize bush or the republican party you’rea troll. Seemsca llittle off to me.

      • majr0d

        Bush Derangement Syndrome strikes again.

    • tiger

      Seen our launch pad lately? It is on fire….

  • edgy

    First known trip? How many times have the Chinese made port calls to Pakistan and Iran

    Guess US military intelligence is indeed an oxymoron.

    • MarinFliedger

      Of course,you can count on the NSA for that type of stuff,they can do everything! (Sarcasm)

    • Tom

      If so, edgy, US military intelligence has been successful according to your comments. Welcome to the “been had !” Intelligence is not telling all you know or show.

    • displacedjim

      So tell us and US military intelligence: How many times have Chinese submarines made port calls to Pakistan and Iran?

  • peterm

    And they built these subs with money from the U.S., because we have been suckered into buying chinese made crap for more than 15 years now.

    • jle

      And our government knew all along that this would be the outcome.

    • Jim

      Our government made it possable by not implimenting Tarriffs which would have protected our industries from cheap overseas labor. Opps, I forgot, they wanted cheap cheap Chinese crap so our businesses could make a fortune while our work force deminishes.
      DO NOT BUY FROM CHINA OR YOU WILL HELP FUEL THEIR MILITARY…

      • blight_qwertydd

        If it wasn’t the Chinese, it would’ve been NAFTA. Know any American cars with parts not made in Canada or Mexico?

  • MrV

    Any nation with that amount of nuclear submarine/missle capability is a major competitor and needs to be taken seriously. This Goure person acts like the five nuclear attack submarines, four nuclear ballistic missile submarines and 53 diesel attack submarines don’t make the Chinese a major competitor. All it takes is one of those submarines to do major damage, and we’re talking 60 something submarines. What about the Ruskies? My suggestion to Goure is get real. I hope these smart fellas aren’t going to call the Chinese a rookie varsity team like they called the ISIS troublemakers. My humble opinion with all this firepower in the hands of oppressors the world has big problems. Get on your knees and “Stay prayed up America”. Almighty GOD is on the throne! It is HE that we need the most and it is HE that ultimately controls what is allowed to happen down here on planet earth.

  • Chuck

    That is a photo of a missile sub. or something doing a great job looking like one.

  • Darren Chaker

    Incredible advancemens, but ultimately if it is nothing compared to the US fleet.

  • TheFlIrishman

    Blame it all on WALMART!
    That’s where they got the $$ and the Technology!

  • Ben

    Why would they agree to that when they can just steal everything?

  • Darnell Thrasher

    Keep in mind ballistic missiles and submarines capable of carrying them have been around for more than 50 years, it was only a matter of time before China started making their own.

  • TheDark1047

    China doesn’t need a bigger military.

    • superraptor

      but they will build it. Look for 30000 nuclear warheads aimed at us very soon while we fret about Obamacare

    • Wulf145

      Neither does the US, but since when does the Question arise “do we really need this?” when it comes to military spending.

    • Darnell

      Of course they don’t NEED a bigger military, they WANT a bigger military and it’s the same reason we wan’t a large military: to influence international event in their favor. Why are people surprised by this?

  • anthony

    POTUS thus President Obama got us out of war as promised.The BUSHES war.He cleaned up their mess,the world can tell you that,President Obama was forced to make decisions with congress also lets not forget.Who did you vote for??

  • Nails

    I’d like to agree with you - and mostly do - but China just doesn’t have it in ’em to be quiet. They will flaunt the hell outta their military superiority if and when they reach that level. Then they will draw us in by bombing the ever-loving $hit out of Taiwan, South Korea, etc. Then we’d have no choice but to get drawn in.

    But yeah, just not quiet.

  • Hooksdown

    I can recall the time when the Chinese military was counted out because they were “incapable of moving their masses of troops for great distances, even within China.”
    Those were heady times - gone aglimmering.

  • ken

    China has forgotten that we save their butts in ww1 when Japan conquest of it country. Now Bill Clinton open the door to our technology when he was in charge and they been stealing our secrets and are still doing it. Look at the aircraft and ships it’s all built on our design and probably our electronic secrets. And it unbelievable the these so call leaders get in bed with China and borrow money. Nothing is good about free trade all it does is dump all their good into our country and we are unable to sell our good in their countries. That’s why we are in a economic collapse. We are bring destroyed from within and the progressive are committing treason.

    • tiger

      Not true…..
      China buys plenty from the US. Nobody in America is crying to work in a Sweatshop. As for butt saving? A lot good Chinese died tying down the bulk of the Imperial Army. Try Island hopping versus double the enemy.

    • Ripley

      Mate, you really don’t know what you’re talking about. It was WW2, not WW1, for starters, and America colonised parts of China (eg. the American ‘concession’ in Shanghai - look it up) before then, so don’t expect them to feel like they owe you anything.

      The only problem with democracy is that you don’t have to pass an intelligence test to vote.

    • blight_qwertydd

      The Kuomintang wasn’t a great government at all. By the standards espoused in our own DOI the people had the right to a better government. Sadly, the Communists won, and weren’t that much better.

  • Jas T Kirk

    Two observations:
    1. Isn’t it obvious that ANY “submarine sighting” is a public relations/political statement more than a projection of force? They are by nature covert weapons systems.
    2. Mentions of Clinton, as clear dogmatism. . .the Chinese would likely NOT possess ballistic missles if the US had not abused Qian Xuesen courtesy of Sen McCarthy & his gang of thugs. This abuse caused Dr Xuesen to immediately immgrate to China and devote himself fully to developing successful Chinese ballistic missiles. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qian_Xuesen )

  • Leo Gerald Johnson

    Well that’s what we get when we let them courouse around Washington D.C as if they owned the place or maybe they do own it and we haven’t found out yet.

  • firedawgy

    I saw one of their subs on Ebay for $1.99 and free shipping, I ordered a couple

  • Robert Cohen

    What reality seems to me at this moment:

    China with nuclear subs is ipso facto/therefore a “super-power.”

    I’m defining “super-power” as militarily and economically powerful in relation to
    the USA particularly, while several other nations probably possess nuclear subs.

    I’m not a reader of JANE’S et al, thus “probably” is a word I prefer to utilize, though
    I can currently think of only 4-5 nuke sub nations currently.

    What does this mean for Asia?

    And isn’t the 20th century’s SEATO agreement therefore a large bit out-of-date?

    Leader Abe of Japan may particularly be worrying, as most of Asia
    surely is: There is domestic pressure to become a stronger military power, apparently
    because of the PRC’s ominous military hardware and dispute over that symbolic
    tiny rock island

    But doesn’t a China as super-power actually “re-stabilize” the world?

    Perhaps, but China has APPARENTLY been so recently been intimidating both Japan and the Philipines (sp?) regarding disputed land/island/maritime rights.

    How China treats the situations is a clue to the future, scary or not quite as
    scary.

    Is the PRC today rational or irrational?

    Well, it has been much, much, much, more pragmatic than Mao government.

    One important clue seems to be they are handling/trying to handle North Korea, their close friend.

    Is there more or less hope for the survival of mankind, since China became so powerful.

    One can only hope “more hope.”

    They are said to be prideful (aren’t we all), while we should hope their adaptivity trumps
    their most foolish fantasy, because they realize we’re in a much different
    reality than a “relatively simple cold war” and including of course post Korean/Vietnam War.

    I perceive it’s frankly very much of a MAD vs MAD vs MAD vs MAD et al World ad tout le monde mort (to everybody’s death, am mixing latin and French, so what).

  • Patrick

    Obama won the Nobel Prize for pledging to reduce America’s nuclear arsenal. A good idea for mankind, less nukes in the world. However, China does not seem to share Obama’s ideas, nor Iran. Is it time to restore those old fall out shelters from the 1950s/60s? Or were they a fantasy, we could survive WWIII. Was living in lower Manhattan in December 1983 when supposedly Andropov ordered a nuke strike on America. Would have been vaporized if his orders would have been successful. We have so much potential as a species. Mankind is on the verge of developing clean abundant energy and, yet, the potential of nuclear destruction continues to grow. No wonder sex, drugs and frivilous distractions dominate our group think. Reality seems darn scary.

  • Franklin

    It was an interesting article until it failed to report on the US submarine capabilities or the threat the USA poses to global stability and peach, which the last time I checked was significant when viewed in the historical context.

  • Amelia Johnson

    Awfully exciting critique

  • Jim

    Can’t wait for their next new sub built with the money they made off of the crappy Chinese tires they sell us. Great trade. You know the Chinese leaders just can’t help laughing at how stupid US leaders (BO and Congress) are and the American public. Great trade, our freedom for cheap crap.

    • Tabasco

      Yes China’s economic growth is slowing, after spending on military buildup it there won’t a surplus to purchase US debt.

  • chinyitu

    People, when? When in the context of since America had our Independence in the world scene that China invaded or attacked another country without being provoked or occupied? What we really need to worry about is the productivity of the mass in China. The money they earned from the world may very well be used to buy America rather than break America. In all, America is still the prettiest country in nature and some cities, not all, such as Detroit, recently Ferguson. Any rational people will buy pretty or good things, not destroy them! We really need get our country back in shape, with the arsenal we have today, if we have a spine, no country will take on us period, regardless what they have in weaponry.

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    Can’t wait for their next new sub built with the money they made off of the crappy Chinese tires they sell us. Great trade. You know the Chinese leaders just can’t help laughing at how stupid US leaders (BO and Congress) are and the American public. Great trade, our freedom for cheap crap.

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    Nice info…

  • bunga papan bandung

    i think China clearly appears to be pursuing a great power nuclear-deterrence strategy. They making progress but it is not fast paced

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