Satellite pictures broadcast by China last week reveal three new advanced nuclear-propelled submarines that can fire cutting edge anti-ship missiles.
The Type-093G submarines are a second-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine, and are due to be delivered to the Chinese army shortly.
The launchers are designed to fire YJ-18, the vertically launched version of China’s YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missile, according to the Navy’s website. The advanced missile can reportedly carry a 300-kilogram warhead to a range over 200 kilometers and is capable of performing maneuvers at speeds of up to Mach 3 just before hitting its target.
The Type-093G submarine also has improved speed and mobility, and reduced noise compared to the regular version, the website said.
PLA’s Navy is believed to have up to six Type-093 submarines currently in service in addition to three older Type-091s. A new Type-095 submarine is currently in development. China also reportedly has four Type-094 ballistic missile submarines carrying JL-1 or JL-2 nuclear missiles.
Earlier in February, US Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy said China had surpassed the US in the total number of submarines.
“They may not be the same quality, but their submarine forces are growing at a tremendous rate. They now have more diesel and nuclear attack submarines than we have,” the admiral told a House subcommittee.
“They are producing some fairly amazing submarines and they are actually deploying them,” he added, explaining the Chinese vessels are being sent on longer missions to regions located further from China.
The assessment sparked fears in the US that China would be able to strike American territory from its submarines deployed in the Pacific. However, the fears may be exaggerated, since JL-2, which according to some estimates has enough range to reach Alaska, Hawaii or the US military bases in Guam, is believed to have been in service since at least 2012.
Chinese naval development was addressed in the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s annual report to Congress in December last year, Military.com reported. Among other issues the commission commented on Chinese-Russian military development cooperation and 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 commission said.
“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,” it added.
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