China Unveils Three New Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarines

China SubThe Chinese Navy is preparing to commission three new, nuclear-powered attack submarines with a vertical launching system able to fire supersonic anti-ship missiles, a report from China Daily said.

The China Central Television showed satellite pictures earlier this week of the three submarines anchored at an unidentified port claiming that the new submarines are China’s most advanced Type-093G attack submarines.

“The Type-093G is reported to be an upgraded version of Type-093, China’s second-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine, which entered active service several years ago. With a teardrop hull, the submarine is longer than its predecessor and has a vertical launching system,” according to the China Daily report.

The Chinese navy’s website said the new variant is engineered to reduce noise, improve speed and mobility and fire China’s latest YJ-18 supersonic anti-ship missile, according to the report.

China established its nuclear-powered submarine force in the early 1970s but had never shown it to the outside world until 2009 when two nuclear submarines took part in a parade marking the 60th anniversary of the PLA navy’s founding, the China Daily report said.

These recent developments involving Chinese submarine acquisition is not likely to surprise U.S. observers who have repeatedly been vocal about the pace of China’s naval and overall military modernization.

In fact, Navy leaders told lawmakers in February that the Chinese navy now operates a greater number of attack submarines than the U.S. military and is rapidly expanding the scope of their undersea missions and patrols.

“Their submarine force has grown over a tremendous rate. They now have more diesel and nuclear attack submarines than we have so they’ve past us in total quantity — but in quality they are still not there,” said Vice Adm. Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of Naval operations, integration of capabilities and resources.

Speaking before the House’s Seapower and Projections Forces subcommittee on the Navy budget, Mulloy also said the Chinese have rapidly expanded their undersea missions and patrols.

“They are producing some fairly amazing submarines. They’ve now had three deployments in the Indian Ocean. They are expanding where their submarines go,” Mulloy told the subcommittee. “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 nuclear weapons – went on a very long 95-day at sea patrol.

This development inspired many news reports and public commentary about the prospect that nuclear-armed Chinese ballistic missile submarines would have the ability to potentially strike parts of Alaska and Hawaii from various undersea locations in the Pacific Ocean.

The issue of Chinese naval and submarine development was addressed in detail in the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s annual report to Congress released last year.

The commission said Chinese modernization plans call for a sharp increase in attack submarines and nuclear-armed submarines or SSBNs. Chinese SSBNs are now able to patrol with nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles able to strike targets more than 4,500 nautical miles.

In addition, the Chinese are currently working on a new, modernized SSBN platform as well as a long-range missile, the JL-3, the commission said.

The commission also specifically addressed areas of Chinese-Russian military developmental cooperation, saying the two countries are working on a joint deal to build new attack submarines.

“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 U.S. efforts to track and counter PLA submarines,” the commission writes.

The Commission also said that the Chinese have been working on the development of a land-attack cruise missile, something which appears to have come to fruition according to the China Daily report citing vertical launch tubes.

While the commission says the exact amount of Chinese military spending is difficult to identify, China’s projected defense spending for 2014 is cited at $131 billion, approximately 12.2 percent greater than 2013. This figure is about the sixth of what the U.S. spends annually.

The Chinese defense budget has increased by double digits since 1989, the commission states resulting in annual defense spending doubling since 2008, according to the report.

Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Virginia, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, cited the increase in submarine and surface navy patrols tripling since 2007 as an area of concern.

“What they are doing with patrols is just the tip of the iceberg. It is not just the number of the ships, but within five to eight years they will have about 82 submarines in the Asia Pacific area and we will have about 32 to 34,” he told last summer.

Although Mulloy made the point to lawmakers that the U.S. currently enjoys a technological advantage over China when it comes to submarines and undersea technologies, there is nevertheless much concern about this issue for the future.

— Kris Osborn can be reached at

About the Author

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

    …… some point quantity has a quality of its own.

  • Charles

    The USA probably builds the finest nuke boats on the planet.

    However, the US Navy needs to start either buying or building AIP boats, and forward base them in Japan (maybe keep a dozen or so around to patrol the US coasts). Nothing is quieter than an AIP boat, and they cost a fraction of what we pay for a nuke.

    And, if the US starts building conventional boats, we can sell them to Taiwan and further reduce our costs.

    • DobdobBob

      Honestly, just buy the rights to build some AIP boats from German or Sweden. They build great subs and it would save on R&D

      • Fatman

        Wow, relying on allies for military equipment to help fight wars against common enemies. Radical thinking here.

      • AAK

        US lawmakers are blocking even the relatively innocuous suggestion of manufacturing the Meteor AA missile in the US because it’s Dang Foreign. A sub is just not happening.

        Australia is actually in grave need of a new conventional sub and looking for options. They are now looking at a spec design or a variation on a current Japanese model (needs substantial changes to meet range requirements). Wonder if there’s a slightly ajar door for a common programme.

    • Chuck Stable

      >> “And, if the US starts building conventional boats, we can sell them to Taiwan and further reduce our costs.”

      The U.S. is not going to sell anything advanced to Taiwan because China always gets so upset. Remember the F-16 sale to Taiwan where Taiwan wanted F-16 C/Ds, China got angry, and the U.S. ‘compromised’ by offering only F-16 A/Bs.

      • blight_

        Fear of offending the Great Assembly Line of China gives them tremendous soft power.

  • Andy

    The Chinese learn from the WWII when the US out number German plane that why their don’t care quality.

    • Fatman

      Your grasp of the English language may be a little loose but you make a good point. Sherman tanks were far inferior to the Panzers and Tigers the Nazis used but mass production got the job done. Same with the liberty ships that transported so many troops across the Atlantic. They were famous for splitting in two along a central weld. Force multipliers mean little in the face of overwhelming numbers.

  • Andy

    We don’t have money to build the new Sub. but we have Billion to give a way so call FOREIGN AID. funny is included China.

    • Paul

      True China last year had gotten over 700 million dollars in direct US Aid, that $700 million would of went a long way in our own country.

  • Andy

    Search for the country that receive US Aid. Then you’ll see….

  • Lance

    Agree with Charles we need to move our own subs to japan and Philippines to counter China. Though not overly impressed with this new sub its a upgraded sub of a sub in PLAN service for decades. Overall our subs are much better quality than anything China can currently dream of.

  • guest

    We need more subs and they take a long time to build and are expensive, I think Russia has a bunch of nuke subs in mothballs. Maybe our Navy can make a good deal on a dozen or so of these unused Russian subs?

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    The Navy is adamant about keeping the submarine force all-nuclear. And bear in mind that any foreign design, be it Swedish or German or Japanese, would be rejected for NIH reasons. A billion wouldn’t be enough for an all-new, domestic AIP boat.

  • Docsenko

    Hollander, NeoCon a little overused. At least five European Nations, Japan, Russia have put funds in the Chinese International Bank. There is a little known law (forgot the name) that its Phase II part requires other nations to deal thru the IRS. The are investing in part through the Chinese Bank instead of putting those funds into World Bank. This screw up is courtesy of our present government. If the trend continues, the dollar will either lose a lot of power or crash all together.

    • COB

      US dollar as an international currency exchange is fast ly shrinking, in fact may of our own companies (Catepillar and others) are already exchanging in other than US dollars. To make matters worse our only magnet manufacturer coupled with its rare earth deposits has recently been sold to China. Weapons system impact? What say ye Indiana? Just a matter of time when we can not print more money to pay interest on our debts. We borrow money from China to provide aide to other countries. Dollar shrinking, gold expanding. China has been hoarding gold for years to ward off impact when USD goes south. This and he next demo administration will give up the South China Sea as well as Europe.

  • Virgil Cuttaway

    Whats worse is that the Chinese military has been built on the backs of US consumers and companies who buy Chinese products and transfer production and technology to China. The US educates a large percentage of their top students in US colleges and universities, primarily engineering fields. All the while, we reduce military spending and allocate higher and higher percentages of the federal budget to social programs.

    Moral of the story: the US can look in the mirror and blame itself for the Chinese economy and rapid military buildup.

    • miles

      Than the Corporation and the 1% should shoulder the Financial responsibility/Tax since our military and intelligence agency’s seem to just be for the protection of their life style.

    • Leon Suchorski

      Here comes Pearl Harbor, all over again.

    • lol what?!?

      Yeah, you know what would really help the USA. If we kicked all the foreigners out of the country. It isn’t sane to allow peaceful, intelligent, wealthy students to study in our schools. We hate to develop close ties with other peoples of the world. We are far safer following brother Kim’s plan of isolationism.

      Also only an idiot would transfer production from an area of high tax and labor to that of a lower tax system and lower labor costs. Everyone would love to buy a pair of nikes a $200 instead of $50. It’s far better for companies to stay in America and close down than to move the business outside of the U.S. where all revenues earned outside of the U.S. are still subject to U.S. tax law.

      Someone get this man to the white house! He’s got the right plan! F#$k the poor, sick, and elderly. Giving health care, food, and education to those in need is a proven recipe for disaster.


    • Dfens

      You are thinking of this situation all wrong. What the US needs is a credible threat so we can spend more of our money on defense contractors who will promise to keep us safe from the bad old enemy. You keep thinking that our nation’s defense is about defending the nation, when it is really about making a few rich defense oligarchs even richer.

  • C.V. Compton Shaw

    At the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific, Japan quickly attained naval supremacy in the Pacific over the USA, the UK, and the other Allies. During the period that followed until about the time of the Battle of Midway at which Japan’s naval ascendancy was transformed into a rough equality in naval forces with the Allies , Japan was able to successfully invade and occupy at will many nations. Such being the case, the USA should put contingency plans in effect such that appropriate defenses are in place in case a similar scenario develops with regard to China

  • Highguard

    Right Leon, it all comes down to air and undersea power (with ability to attack via air meduim). And, the US is not investing enough funding in the right capabilities. We are being told to plan based on available resources…..which are all geared towards fighting Jihadis in Mega-Resourced Low Intensity Conflict. A welcome distraction by China and a Resurgent Russia. We need to focus on building our strategic forces to ensure our safety from an increasing inferiority for high-end conventional scenarios.

  • Highguard

    Never want to delve into the political realm too much but we have politicians with serious ambitions who are not only accepting money from foreign powers for their campaigns but who are also the same politicians who helped high-end adversaries improve their rockets in the late 90s (does Loral scandal ring a bell). We would never have dreamed of being threatened by a JL-2 or JL-3 back then. But, here we are now. And, how did we get here? Maybe we need to address our past behavior in a serious way policy and legal-wise before we can move safely into the future. Our survival as a nation could be at stake and sooner than we realize.



    • blight_

      Walmart doesn’t care where you make your product. They have a price point. Meet it or die.

  • Jake

    I am interested to know how accurate China’s military spending #s are. Years ago someone I trust told me China’s actual military spending is far more then reported.

    • Hedd Wyn John

      China spends more on Internal security than it does on the military. The communist party fears it’s own people more than any foreign power. Chinese military spending is fraction of the USA and until that gap closes (if it closes) the USA will still retain a qualitative and quantitative superiority in most areas.

  • jim

    From the above comments it’s hard to believe that the USA spends 6 times the amount that the Chinese do! When was the last time the Chinese invaded someone.

  • Tad

    Well I’ll bet the Chinese can’t make an LCS! We have modules! You hear that? Modules! And no one can stand against our modules.

  • Stan

    These subs have a single purpose, to keep American carrier battle groups far away. They can stay outside of the “easy” detection range, unload the missiles and dive to safety before anyone can react. We need more subs and unmanned submersibles to counter them, better surveillance to detect the anti-ship missiles, including the ballistic ones, and the tools to target and defeat those missiles. Now all this would be reactive strategy; what could be done to be proactive without breaking the bank (completely)?

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    The things that could be best done proactively are not really in our hands, but in those of the nations that need to defend themselves. Japan is edgy over how prepared to defend themselves they want to be, despite their increases in recent budgets. Japanese reluctance to admit any wrongdoing in WW II keeps South Korea too agitated to cooperate as completely as the two nations could. South Korea doesn’t really have the money to develop the stealth fighter they want, even with Indonesian buy-in. If S. Korea, Japan, Indonesia were to pool their expertise and money for a single fighter design, they could do it, but their collective politics prohibit anything so sensible. No one’s going to be seen cooperating too closely with Taiwan, lest China be upset, Malaysian politics preclude anyone getting too close to the unsavory aspects of their ruling party and government, and the junta currently running Thailand seems to want to stay in power indefinitely.

  • Cadil Valdez

    Well, well.!!! But not well enough.. we need A senator like Macaine to lead..Just thinking out loud.

  • Jim

    China can build subs, surface ships, planes and missiles a lot cheaper because Russia gives them the technology and what they don’t like in Russian technology they just hack into US computers, steal the plans for our stuff and build there own. Saves a pretty penny when you’re not spending on R&D.

  • Tim

    Steal??? Hell we gave it to them. They were building guidance systems for cruise missles for Ratheon in the 90’s. Where do you think they got all that technology so fast?

  • Darrell M.Sears

    The U.S. Congress is a lazy, inept ,corrupt institution that is to busy paying off its corporate masters.
    Admiral Molloy’s comments have fallen on deaf ears and we won’t be able to build new submarines anytime in the near future,to counter what the Chinese are doing out in the pacific.The Chinese are working hard to become a truly,blue water, navy and it’s implications for a shift in the balance of power are ominous for the United States.

  • T Man

    Many people see Steve Jobs as some sort of a technological/business hero. However every Iphone, Ipad, Itablet made is paying to support and expand China’s military ambitions. Steve Jobs isn’t/wasn’t the only one but we have only ourself’s to blame for the sake of the investor’s forsaken “margin”. Allowing American textiles industry to egerly run to China starting start in several decades ago was and is a very bad move. Who’s country has the revenue now for defense spending……….

  • msgingram

    There have been statements to the effect we should stop giving funding to other nations and build a better defense for the US, well that is not going to happen. The US is heading for a socialistic posture and the does not include defense funding. There is some merit to this but when our money gets short then the places we bribed will turn against the US. We should take care of our own defense but that is not an option when you give all the money to places like China and then there is nothing left to fund our own defense. What will happen is we will get weak and be attacked then we will lose a lot of lives and money to get back on top.

  • Yakuza

    What is the probability of WWIII before 2030? Japan is China’s medicine. Japan should scrap the current constitution with US help and develop a capable military just like before WWII then we’ll see what Russia, North Korea and China think.

  • william dungo

    these are great toys by china, to intimidate its neighboring country.