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 Military.com 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 Kris.Osborn@military.com

About the Author

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

    ……..at 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

    • 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.

      • Riceball

        But we no longer have the numbers that we did back then and we never really had the numbers to face the Russians which is why we went the quality vs. quantity route.

        It should also be noted that the whole Sherman was vastly inferior to German panzers is largely a myth. A Sherman was a pretty fair match against the PzKpfw IV, the workhorse of the German Panzer Corps, although the late war models did outclass the Sherman in terms of firepower with its high velocity 75mm gun. Shermans weren’t outclassed until the introduction of the Panther, Tiger, & King Tiger but they really weren’t technologically superior, they just had thicker armor and bigger/more powerful guns. In actual use it was found that the German heavy tanks had serious reliability issues and a large number of the vaunted Tigers were lost due to mechanical failures and their crews scuttling their tanks to keep it from being captured. German industry was also not capable of producing enough Tigers (and King Tigers) in any useful numbers to matter, they were very expensive and complicated to manufacture, esp. for a nation that was fighting a war on two fronts and getting bombed day and night.

        While quantity does have a quality all of its own, it’s only true to a certain point. in most aspects we have enough quality weapons to compensate for the numbers we’d face against China or Russia. However, I do believe that we don’t have enough F-22s to make the quality vs. quantity equation work in our favor.

  • 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.

    • Hollander

      One would think that after the monumental foreign policy screw-up by the stupid Obama regime, some would have learned a lesson or two.

      Not Lance and the neo-con right-wing lunatics obviously.

      US / NATO have been getting punched by BRICS since neo-con fanatics’ nonsensical pivot to Asia. Now the US is on the brink of becoming irrelevant as a market manipulator and financial ponzi-schemer. Self-inflicted humiliation is glaring in the case of Obama admin’s attempt to deter “allies” from joining the Chinese-led AIIB. It shows just how far the neo-cons have detached themselves from reality.

      • Captain Obvious

        Weak political baiting bro.

        You have no idea how the world works from your computer. It is far beyond anything you could possibly understand.

        • UK Grant

          Actually Hollander is absolutely correct in his/her characterization of the events. You are the one who is too ignorant about the real world. The flip-flops of your numbskull administration regarding Britain, France, Germany, Israel and Taiwan joining the Chinese-led AIIB despite relentless pressure and disapproval from your neo-con lunatics and retards (Obama, Kerry, Clinton all included) says a ton about your sub-room-temperature political IQ.

    • Lele

      China needs to conduct massive naval and air exercise around Sea of Japan, Philippines and Pacific Ocean near usa so that China can also pivot those idiots and trouble makers. China need to nuke Japan as a token of revenge for the atrocities of Nanking massacre. Only this option would keep Japan for being too nosy.

    • Riceball

      So what? Our LAs are practically ancient but we’re still using them and the Virginias are based on the Seawolfs. What matters most is just how good the old sub that the Chinese based their new sub on was and how improved this new one is.

  • 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.

    • Charles

      You are correct the navy is adamant w/r/t nuke subs.

      But our navy (IMHO) needs to get with the 21st century, and stop acting like spoiled children when it comes to defense of the nation. The navy doesn’t want AIP subs built here because then the congress might actually make them buy some.

      Given budgetary constraints, its time to get realistic.

      They’d rather burn money on useless (and hyper-expensive) ships like LCS (either variant), now morphed into a “FF”/Fast Frigate by the magic of marketing, that Adm. Greenert himself admitted was never intended to venture into the littorals to engage in combat. Hence, no room for up-armoring/arming, no room for growth, and not even built to the lowest naval survival standard. But they’ll sure be fun for water-skiing behind!

      The navy isn’t alone in this stupidity: whats the mission? Is it about protecting the national security of the USA and the US taxpayers, or their fragile personal egos?

      If its the latter, its far past the time to purge the general officer corps and admiralty – because they’re bloated beyond belief anyway.

      The service branches guzzle champagne when all they have funds for is beer.

    • tiger

      The Navy needs to consider they lack people who can even pass nuc school. Let alone flip a burger. The pool of talent willing to spend years babysitting a reactor is drying up. For the shallow waters of the West Pac, AIP make sense to do a few boats.

      • Brian B. Mulholland

        Charles, Tiger, I agree that good AIP boats would be an asset, and quite possibly survivable where a larger nuclear boat would not be. The driving force on this is service politics, but if the Navy were to change policy positions in this regard, General Dynamics would be ferocious in defense of its’ monopoly franchise. K street money would flow like water to as many Congressmen as are needed to kill the idea. And while Congress might accept the idea of non-nuclear submarines in principle, the pork would have to be spread out to Southern shipbuilders. The build quality of the LCS ships doesn’t encourage confidence in the result.

        • Riceball

          It’s not just service politics but how the US military in general and the US Navy in particular operate. We like to operate in an expeditionary manner and that means we patrol and operate far from home and that philosophy naturally favors nuke boats with their long legs over AIP boats. This means our subs can operate farther from home for longer than a conventional boat could so that we can deal with any potential threats as far from home as possible.

          The other thing to consider is that we no longer have the infrastructure to support a fleet of AIP boats. If I’m not mistaken, our sub doctrine, since the inception of the nuke boat, is for them to operate out at sea continuously and rarely, if ever, surfacing or visiting foreign ports. So if we were to start operating AIP boats again and we want to operate them far from home we’d have to rebuild our sub tender fleet again and relearn how to keep subs out at sea supplied.

  • 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.

  • 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

    • Leon Suchorski

      If you check your history, It was at the battle of Midway, that we knocked out so many of their carriers, and that impaired their air cover for their operations.

    • Captain Obvious

      There is nothing to be overtly concerned about. It’s the bullheadedness of China to believe they can challenge the US that will be more detrimental to them. They are in an ever continuing arms build up and our country is in a completely different era than them. If they want to overstep their bounds, they will inevitably suffer more in the end if it ever heats up. Failure goes to the fool that believes they can cripple the US and get away with it.

    • Brian B. Mulholland

      Japan had the smallest economy of any combatant nation in WW II, and no prospect of changing that state whatsoever. China is overtaking the US in various ways and will, within this senior citizen’s lifetime, have a bigger economy. Chinese military ambitions are focused on the seizure of Taiwan and simply intimidating the rest of their neighbors. The military demands of such a seizure are a lot simpler than the demands made of Japan’s military by Japanese ambitions to secure resources that had to reach Japan proper by sea. Put crudely, if China is successful in seizing Taiwan on the initial assault, there is no prospect whatsoever of island-hopping our way back to liberating TAiwan.

      IMHO the first island chain will be defended successfully by military forces in place when the shooting starts, or not at all. I doubt we will be able to intervene.

  • 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.

  • GUEST

    FUNDED BY WALMART. REMEMBER WALMART INSISTED COMPANIES GET THEIR PRODUCTS MADE IN CHINA BEFORE THEY WOULD STOCK THEM. THEY WOULD MAKE A FEW CENTS MORE IN PROFIT AT THE COST OF AMERICA’S COMPANIES AND JOBS. MORONS KEEP SHOPPING AT WALMART AND FUND CHINA.

  • 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.

    • Fatman

      Happening right now, check out the Philippines.

      • oblatt23

        Not according to the US congress that refuses to ratify convention that would make the territory part of the Philippines.

      • UK Grant

        No Fatman, check out the definition of “invade” in the dictionary.

        It’s a good thing that there are so many fatman like you in America. It’s quite probable that Her Majesty QEII will be able to reclaim the 13 colonies before her 95th birthday.

    • Riceball

      That number depends on what numbers you’re looking at. Are you looking at dollar amounts or percentage of budget or percentage of GDP because dollar amounts is worthless, it’s percentage of budget or GDP that really count. Iirc, going by the last numbers I saw the actual meaningful difference is only by a couple of percent or so. Besides, you also have to factor in how much everything costs, chances are that China is getting a lot more for their dollar than we, or any other western nation is.

  • 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.