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Essay: China’s Submarine Solution for the Taiwan Strait

2010 photo of a Type-39A Yuan-class submarine. CRS Photo

2010 photo of a Type-39A Yuan-class submarine. CRS Photo

While several Chinese security-scenarios are discussed in defense circles, China’s Taiwan dilemma is still the primary driver for Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) acquisition.

Resolving China’s Taiwan issue has been the PLA’s justification for double-digit budget increases over decades. The force needed to deal with a U.S. military intervention during a Taiwan contingency far outweighs that required to handle China’s other external security goals.

The Taiwan issue is reflected in the PLA Navy’s (PLAN) undersea force structure, which in recent years has heavily prioritized the construction of Type-39A Yuan-class conventional submarines (SSK). According to Naval War College professor and PLAN watcher Lyle Goldstein, the Yuan is “one of the sharpest spears in China’s maritime arsenal.”

The Yuan was primarily designed to deal with U.S. forces during a Taiwan contingency and is the only SSK that China is currently producing. The recent pace of Yuan construction has been staggering. Between 2010 and 2011 the PLAN launched eight Yuans and in 2012 alone laid down five new Yuan keels. There are currently 13 Yuans in service and seven more being constructed. The PLAN may construct up to 20 more. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) recently stated “within five to eight years [The PLAN] will have about 82 submarines in the Asia Pacific area.”

A graph from the Office of Naval Intelligence’s recent report on the PLAN, shown below, anticipates China’s continued prioritization of SSKs over the next decade.

Office of Naval Intelligence Graphic

Office of Naval Intelligence Graphic

Given that submarine lifetimes run between 20-30 years, a substantial portion of this force will be Yuan-class. The Yuan will remain a key aspect of PLAN force structure through the 2030s and 2040s. If a conflict occurs between the U.S. and China around Taiwan or in the South China Sea, the Yuan will play a critical role in Chinese area-defense area-denial (A2/AD). Therefore, understanding of the Yuan’s design philosophy—what it was designed to excel at—is important for U.S. policymakers and the defense community at large.

Trade-off analysis is derived from the reality that weapons can never be everything or do everything perfectly and economically. Compromises must always be made. Understanding what capabilities the Yuan’s designers were willing or unwilling to sacrifice gives an analyst suggestive-insight into the goals and mindset of the PLAN.

A trade-off analysis on what little public information is available on the platform suggests the PLAN designed the Yuan to be a small, quiet, slow-moving anti-surface warfare platform. While the Yuan is undoubtedly capable of traditional SSK mission roles such as regional intelligence-gathering and coastal defense, trade-off analysis suggests the Yuan was designed primarily as an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) platform capable of hiding submerged for long periods of time in difficult-to-access shallow littorals.

Japan’s Soryu-class SSK provides an ideal contrast with the Yuan. The Soryu is 84 meters long, with a draft (height from water line) of 10.3 meters, a beam (width) of 9.1 meters, and a crew of 70. In contrast, the Yuan is 73-75 meters long, with a draft of 5.5 meters, a beam of 8.4 meters, and a crew of 58. Various sources report different submerged displacements for the Yuan. Comparatively, it is far smaller than the Soryu: The draft is 4.3 meters shorter, the length around 10 meters less, and 0.7 meters thinner in width.

Water pressure and hydrodynamic drag place a premium on submarine internal volume. Increasing an SSK’s capabilities, such as magazine (ammunition) depth, range, stealth, or speed, for example, no doubt has an upward-spiraling effect on platform size. Likewise, shrinking a submarine’s size would put substantial downward pressure on every onboard system, such as crew size, habitability, fuel storage, magazine depth, etc. Make no mistake: the Yuan’s designers accepted capability reductions in various areas in order to maintain a small size.

The Yuan’s small profile takes a new significance when compared to its non- air independent propulsion (AIP) equipped predecessor — China’s Song-class SSK. The AIP-equipped Yuan and non-AIP Song have extremely analogous dimensions.

AIP — which produces propulsion power underwater without taking oxygen from the surface — is a significant force-enhancing technology because it enables between 14 to 25 days submerged (depending on AIP-engine type and propulsion activity), thus enhancing survivability by decreasing the frequency with which the SSK needs to “snorkel” (recharge batteries using primary engines), which exposes the submarine to detection. Yet important to this analysis is the fact that AIP systems are large and take up internal volume. PLAN naval architects deliberately maintained the Song-class’s size even with the installation of an AIP system.

Pakistan’s Agosta-class SSK’s MESMA (Module d’Energie Sous-Marin Autonome) AIP system hull insertion-section is 8.6 meters long. Greece’s type214A (German-made) SSK’s 240 kW Fuel Cell system weights 1,800 kg and takes up a 1000-liter volume.

Installing a Stirling-AIP hull insertion into Sweden’s Gotland-class SSK fleet required an 8 meter hull insertion. While the Yuan’s Stirling-AIP system is non-modular (which is more efficient as it is included in the Yuan’s design ground-up, as opposed to a sectional hull-insertion, which is less space-efficient), there is no doubt that the inclusion of an AIP system required capability reductions elsewhere in order to maintain the Song’s size.

While there is a possibility that advances in automation may have contributed to the Yuan’s maintaining of the Song-class’s length, this is improbable, given the Song and the Yuan’s comparable crew sizes (60 and 65, respectively). For context, on board crew is actively minimized during submarine design so as to increase space available for other systems. Much of a submarine’s crew exist to make up for gaps in automation. Therefore given the two submarines’ probable similarity in automation technology and highly analogous dimensions, PLAN naval architects clearly placed such high value on the Yuan’s small profile that even with an AIP system the Song’s platform size was maintained. Why did the PLAN emphasize small platform size, when there are clear, immediate capability benefits to a Soryu-sized platform?

Advantages of a Small Platform: Shallow Operations

There are two advantages to small platform size: shallow operations and cost. The Yuan’s small size enables it to take fuller advantage of the shallow littorals that pepper the area around Taiwan and the South China Sea. The PLAN certainly has accurate surveys of China’s local ocean floor geography, water-temperature trends, and reef locations. PLAN submarine captains are undoubtedly adept at negotiating these features; they are forced to regularly. The Yuan’s small size allows it to maneuver more easily within shallow and confined littoral regions.

This is key, as shallow littoral’s bottom composition has a diminishing effect on sound propagation, sonar-target strength and noise levels — all of which acoustically shield submarines. The phenomenon a growing concern of the U.S. Navy.
“Picking up the quiet hum of a battery-powered, diesel-electric submarine in busy coastal waters is like trying to identify the sound of a single car engine in the din of a major city,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Frank Drennan in a March story in the U.K. Daily Mail .

Given that SSK’s do not have the speed and longevity to evade quickly once detected, the Yuan’s terrain accessibility is a critical part of its survivability and operational ability. The advantages of shallow terrain are increased by the Yuan’s AIP system, which as mentioned before enables weeks of submerged time. This complicates U.S. anti-submarine warfare efforts, as snorkeling exposes SSKs to counter detection and is “the Achilles heel of the modern [conventional submarine].”

Nuclear attack submarines (SSN) like the U.S. Virginia-class (SSN-774) operate with comparatively greater difficulty in this type of terrain. While SSNs have enormous advantages over SSKs, shallow terrain partially limits the SSNs’s primary advantage: diving deep at high speeds after firing and thereby evade detection. Furthermore, maritime geography may circumstantially limit larger submarines physical maneuverability. It is conceivable that an adept PLAN submarine captain (A Chinese Günter Prien) could take advantage the Yuan’s shallow draft and wedge the SSK into a difficult-to-access channel or maritime feature, and thereby forcing higher-technology SSNs to fight on unfavorable terrain whose geography and acoustic signatures favor the defender.

The idea that PLAN naval architects designed the Yuan primarily for chokepoint control and anti-surface ASCM warfare is buttressed by the PLAN’s decision to maintain the Song-class’s double-pressure hull (two hulls: an inner and outer hull, rather than just a single-hull).

For technologically inferior navies like the PLAN, the main benefit to double-hull designs is the additional surface areas where sonar-absorbing, sound-dampening anechoic tiling can be placed. While double-hull designs were used in the past to increase survivability (Russia’s Kilo-class’ double-hull achieved 32 percent reserve buoyancy, which enabled it to remain buoyant even when one of the submarine’s six compartments and adjoining ballast tanks were flooded), it is extremely unlikely that a double-hull would keep the Yuan operational after being hit with a modern torpedo like the U.S. Mark 48.

Double hulls come at a significant capability trade-off: they are costly, difficult to repair, and increase platform size, which in turn increases hydrodynamic drag, lowers engine efficiency, cruising range, and therefore longevity. Efforts to limit size expansion would necessitate internal volume reductions, which would reduce platform capability in areas such as magazine depth, fuel supplies, habitability, for example. In contrast, single-hull designs are lighter, faster, have a higher internal volume-to-displacement ratio, and yet are less stealthy, given likely PLAN technology (The United States has used single-hulls for decades because of advanced U.S. quieting technology).

The PLAN was clearly willing to accept capability limitations and reduced range and speed in order to improve the Yuan’s stealth. The use of a double-hull reinforces the Yuan’s status as a chokepoint guard, rather than a platform that would use AIP to “act like an SSN for a day” and seek-out targets in blue water.

The PLAN may have accepted this trade-off because the Yuan does not need catch up with fast-moving surface ships in order to threaten them: the C-802 anti-ship cruise missile has a range of 180 kilometers. The Yuan is also able to use the PLA’s new supersonic ASCM (YJ-18). The YJ-18 “has been described as having a cruise range of 180km at Mach 0.8 and a sprint range of 40km a Mach 2.5 to 3.0.” An estimate from the Pentagon’s most recent Chinese military capability report places the maximum range of the YJ-18 at 250 nautical miles. This is significant, as supersonic sprinting speeds reduce the reaction time available to and complicate the work of a ship’s countermeasures.

ASCM’s free Yuan captains from spending crucial electrical reserves in attempts to maneuver into torpedo range (Yu-6 torpedo range est. 45 km), after which the Yuan could potentially be left with little power left. Furthermore, the crew proficiency needed to excel in ASCM-based anti-surface warfare is less than that needed when prioritizing torpedo-use. The latter requires complex maneuvering based on imperfect information, all the while leaving the very littoral areas that partially shield them from higher-technology SSNs.

Advantages of a Small Platform: Cost

Undated photo of a Type 39 Yuan-class submarine

Undated photo of a Type 39 Yuan-class submarine

While higher-technology nuclear attack submarines like the U.S. Virginia-class have great advantages over SSKs and could root out hidden Yuan’s over time, delousing SSK’s is complicated by their relatively “cheap” cost. Navies like the PLAN that (thus far) prioritize SSKs can field larger numbers of platforms than would be the case with a purely nuclear-submarine (SSN) force like the U.S. Navy.

The AIP-equipped French Scorpène and Russian Lada-class submarines, both dimensionally similar to the Yuan, have an export price of $450 million. The larger Japanese Soryu costs around $540 million (That is the sixth Soryu’s cost, which benefited from pre-existing designs and a well-established shipyard: a situation the Yuan shares). The cost of the Yuan is unknown. Various reports have priced Pakistan’s recently purchased Yuan-class SSKs between $250 and $325 million, or above $500 million. However, these early-reports are likely inaccurate. Moreover, Pakistan’s purchased Yuans may in fact be its smaller (cheaper), non AIP-equipped export version called the S-20. Lastly, such reports do not shed light on the cost-per-unit for the PLAN. A wide range of economic and political factors influences weapon export prices, to say the least about the variability of domestic production costs.

Generally speaking, the Yuan’s production cost is likely comparable to it’s dimensionally similar Lada-class and Scorpène-class counterparts. That puts the Yuan’s probable cost around 1/6 of a Virginia-class SSN ($2.8 billion). While SSK capabilities are in no way comparable to SSNs, such comparatively low-costs directly contribute to the PLAN’s two-to-one undersea platform quantitative advantage vis-à-vis its U.S. counterparts and the rapid pace of Yuan-acquisition, as shown previously. In the event of a conflict, PLA undersea numerical superiority may slow U.S. efforts to clear areas like the South China Sea of Yuan-class SSK’s. This would buy precious time for the PLA to accomplish its goals during a Taiwan contingency or territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Delousing an area of SSKs is complicated by the fact that AIP increases the Yuan’s range, giving the Yuan more areas to hide or position themselves. Sweden’s Stirling-engine equipped (150kW system) Gotland-class can maintain 5 knots for 14 days submerged, which translates into a 1,680 submerged nautical mile range. While the Stirling AIP-equipped Yuan is larger than the Gotland, Taiwan is only 95 NM from China, the Senkaku islands only 200 NM, and even the Spratly Islands only 634 nautical miles.

Important to this discussion is the close proximity of Taiwan. With Chinese shores relatively close-by, Yuan captains may feel freer to expend energy reserves chasing their targets. Even when low on power AIP would likely enable a Yuan to creep back to the relative safety of China’s close littoral regions. It is conceivable that a fully fueled and charged Yuan could conduct operations around these areas while only rarely having to surface and recharge.

Furthermore, AIP expands the areas that would have to be searched, thereby slowing and complicating surface naval activity in the targeted area. This scenario will only grow worse, as improvements in battery technology enhance the range and longevity of conventional submarines.

Conclusion

The Yuan was designed be a small, cost-minimizing, quiet ASCM platform intended to excel at anti-surface warfare. The PLA may be seeking to deter or defeat U.S. intervention and rectify its weakness in ASW by producing a large number of expendable anti-surface warfare-specialized SSKs. The PLAN’s large SSK fleet would complicate U.S. ASW even if the pace of SSK elimination were high. Such a scenario would buy precious time for the PLA in a Taiwan contingency. The PLA may be seeking the ability to force a situation where the U.S. Navy’s surface fleet would be required to either accept a high level of risk, or operate further away from Taiwan.

However, such generalized conclusions do not take into account the effectiveness of U.S. missile defense, ASW, C4ISR, space and cyber abilities. In other words, trade-off analysis suggests what the PLA may hope it’s submarine force can achieve tactically, operationally, and strategically; not what it is guaranteed to be capable of. Nevertheless, the Yuan and its AIP system are the harbinger of greater challenges to U.S. power projection in the Western Pacific.

  • That’s why Thailand is looking at buying the Yuan class Submarine. They want that Anti-Surface warfare capability in a submarine and want to use them to deny the enemy access to the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman sea. Basically Thailand’s SSK submarines are ASCM platforms for Anti Surface Warfare.

  • PolicyWonk

    Given the costs associated with building Virginia’s – which are excellent boats – it is long past the time for the US to get back into the conventional/AIP game, and forward basing them.

    They cost a fraction of what it takes to build an SSN, and would represent a serious force multiplier while giving the USA something to sell to Taiwan.

    • the author

      I disagree. If a U.S. company wants to pump out SSKs for Taiwan, and has permission to do so, by all means….

      but a hybrid force…I don’t think there are many benefits whatsoever. For a blue water power projection force like the USN, diesels mission relevance is questionable. furthermore, diesels can’t really do ASW.

      • But AIP/Diesel submarines can be used for Littoral operations and Special operations in the Littoral waters.

        • PolicyWonk

          Indeed, and for example – Sweden is about to replace their Gotland (sp) class AIP boats (that cleaned the clocks of our SSN’s) with much larger A26’s, that cost a mere $500M each.

          Contrast that to the Virginia SSN (at $3B each).

          6 A26’s for the cost of ONE Virginia. “the author” is probably right – there’s NO BENEFIT whatsoever to getting six AIP platforms for the price of merely ONE Virginia.

          Not.

          • The benefits of having a AIP/Diesel submarines in the US is that they can work in the shallow waters and littoral waters. They can be used to support Special operations and reduce the distance they need to swim to shore. They are also perfect for ISR missions in the shallows & littorals because they can listen in on the enemy and feed the information to the SSN’s awaiting in the deep.

          • Secundius

            @ Nicky.

            Unfortunately, you going to have to Up Grade your Cudgel, to a War Hammer. To Knock on a few Heads, to get them to “See the Light”…

          • It’s going to take time and many do not realize that to make up the shortfall for Nuclear attack boats that we are retiring such as the Los Angeles class attack subs. We could make some AIP/Diesel boats and post them in Guam or Diego Garcia.

          • Secundius

            @ Nicky.

            It’s not like we don’t have the plans. USN, reversed engineered the Gotland. And gave said plans to Taiwan…

          • Secundius

            @ Nicky.

            The new Swedish A26’s, cost ~$472.5-Million USD/Boat compared to the Virginia class Block III (North Dakota’s) ~$2.68845-Billion USD/Boat (5.689 to 1)…

          • Which makes me wonder why we never kept the AIP/Diesel sub technology.

          • Secundius

            @ Nicky.

            We Do, and What’s the Need. The Stirling Steam Engine, is 200-year old technology. And the first usage of an AIP was in 1867, by Narcis Monturiol i Estarriol, who use peroxide instead of hydrogen. Most modern torpedoes use AIP technology. Some Hospital’s use AIP’s, as Emergency Power Generation System. It’s also available for Residential Home Usage, too. A “Not So Secret, Secret”…

      • PolicyWonk

        Then you should rethink what you consider benefits. The nation is short of money and long on mutual defense requirements, while also tremendously short on submarines – especially ones that can compete on even ground with the modern AIP boats that regularly mop the floor with our SSN’s.

        • Anon

          Perhaps. I wonder though: are AIP SSKs the solution to that? Or is there an alternative, asymmetric approach to dealing with opposing AIP SSKs? For example, the unmanned boat that we’re designing that would ping-track them after leaving the pen. Or, advancements in UUVs?

          There are tangible benefits, but I see it as too-tough a pill to swallow. Perhaps if great advancements in battery technology and AIP occurs they might be worth it.

          is this James Holmes?

          • PolicyWonk

            Well, AIP/SSK’s are (from what I understand) potentially a part of the solution. And while I’m aware of the unmanned/stealthy platforms we’re developing to monitor the seas: if these are pinging they won’t last long in the real world.

            Advancements in UUV’s are also very interesting. But the reality is that we should be addressing the problem from all three angles: SSK/AIP, UUV’s, in addition to the unmanned surface option. It might be a bitter pill, but the advancements in AIP (let alone batteries) of late are making SSK’s deadlier than ever. The tests/games between the Swedes Gotland class vs. our SSN’s did not turn out well for the USN.

            If that isn’t a serious wake-up call, then perhaps I’m not clear on the concept.

            And this is not James Holmes.

    • Elvis

      I read somewhere that the US Navy itself pressures our shipyards not to build diesel-electric submarines for export, only nuclear submarines. The rational being they fear that if our shipyards build SSKs, Congress may push the USN to buy them in lieu of SSNs.

      • PolicyWonk

        I’ve read it in a number of places, and I believe this is true.

        Our navy (in addition to the rest of the DoD) is used to gold-plating everything they buy, while drinking champagne, when the rest of the government is on a beer diet.

      • @NotRizzo

        Rickover admitted as much on numerous occasions, but the logic of building small, short ranged SSKs to deploy in theater ten or more thousands of miles from their home ports is dubious, and also duplicates the efforts of our allies in the region.
        For instance, why would the USN build an SSK to operate in the Baltic when German is already doing that? Japan has a highly advanced conventional sub fleet that will work very well going toe-to-toe with these chinese SSKs in the East China Sea. Expanding the number and capability of other allies in the South China Sea (Phillipines, Australia) is paramount.

        • Elvis

          Agree, that due to the distances and our global obligations SSNs are the type of subs that we need, not SSKs. If we were to reduce our obligations and focus on our hemisphere as I prefer, then that would be a different matter. That being said, where I read that article regarding the US building SSKs was concerning Taiwan needing such submarines. Due to pressure from China, there was reluctance by other countries in supplying Taiwan with that they needed. There apparently was talk about said submarines being built in the US for Taiwan, which the article spoke about that not being possible due to the USN preventing that from happening for the aforementioned reason.

          • James B.

            There was a time when the US maintained coastal fleets overseas, and there were some ships of the Yangtze River Patrol that never sailed in US waters. There are theaters, particularly the Middle East and Med, where we don’t really need blue-water warships.

            We currently try to apply a Pacific Ocean solution to every body of water the Navy operates on, even though most of them are notably different.

    • @NotRizzo

      Why should we build slow, short legged subs when our allies (who are much closer to the operational areas) are doing it for us? Japan, Korea, Australia will need to step up and take the role of “de-lousing” the littorals while the USN SSNs provide long range strike and escort for the CGB farther out to sea.

      • @NotRizzo

        A USN SSK has a much higher probablility of being the LCS to the Burke (the Burke Class being the Seawolf & Virginia Classes in this analogy).

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  • Steve Skubinna

    Taiwan “issue,” “dilemma” and “contingency.”

    Interestingly neutral words to describe an invasion of a sovereign nation.

    • Don Bacon

      Taiwan is not a sovereign nation. The government on Taiwan purports to be the government of all of China plus Manchuria, calling itself Republic of China. ROC is recognized by twenty or so states, but no major ones.

      • Steve Skubinna

        Ah. How much in taxes does Beijing collect from Taiwan? Can they so much as write a parking ticket in Taipei?

        Good to know that a huge brutally repressive totalitarian state’s bullying of the international community is sufficient to wish away the existence of an independent democracy.

      • life form

        Taiwan doesn’t really purport to be the govt. of the mainland, it is just that they’re afraid to declare de jure independence because the mainland threatens to invade them if they do. So they help perpetuate the one China fiction demanded by the mainland. And you know that.

        You also know Taiwan has their own elected government, banking currency, military, engages in relations with foreign nations, and Xi needs permission to enter, doesn’t he? Steve is right. Beijing can’t write a parking ticket in Taiwan. Maybe not de jure sovereignty, but a pretty solid de facto nation.

        • publius_maximus_III

          Here’s another one: Taiwan’s electric power grid is 60-hertz, like the USA’s and Korea’s. The PRC uses 50-hertz. Two people divided by a common language.

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  • publius_maximus_III

    If background “noise” in the littorals is the problem with locating these small, quiet diesels in shallow water using the sonar of our blue water killer sub SSN’s, why not place permanent sonar buoys on the seafloor in strategic areas like ports and channels, so they can send pings “upward” toward the passing enemy subs instead of “outward” or “downward” where shore noise mixes in? Such stationary locations could periodically map out a signature of the surrounding seafloor terrain, and subtract that “noise” out of any subsequent sonar signals, thus making any detected subs stand out better, even without any engine noise. Those buoys could be linked to our subs with low frequency communications whenever they’re within range, and even used for targeting.

    • James B.

      Or just lay multi-influence naval mines….Oh, mine warfare is another area the USN has let atrophy. Oops.

  • James Bowen

    Modern diesel submarines are effectively smart, mobile mines. They are very well suited to operations in shallow water. Given the shallow water of the Taiwan Strait, Chinese industrial output, and the low cost of these platforms, this looks like a very viable strategy to overwhelm any attempt by the U.S. Navy to defend Taiwan from a mainland invasion. The U.S. Navy does not have the numerical strength to maintain a strong presence in the face of likely high attrition here, and U.S. industrial output cannot replace such losses quickly. This is what our trade policies have wrought–naval and military inferiority.

    • PolicyWonk

      Indeed. According to Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the LCS is ready to sink slowly enough to allow the crew to get off before it sinks, if it ever comes to blows with a naval opponent.

      Not exactly what I’d call an inspiring marketing message. Adm. Greenert should learn from SevNav Ray Maybus, who renamed the “Littoral Combat Ship” (the same ship Adm. Greenert admitted wasn’t designed to venture into the littorals to engage in combat) “FF”, because people were “confused” about what LCS was supposed to be.

      The people’s confusion is warranted. Mathematically represented:

      Littoral Combat Ship = LCS

      Therefore,

      LCS
      – L
      – C
      ——-
      = S

      So, we’re soon to be paying a half-billion dollars for an “S”, when for less money, our allies get a full-blown FFG.

  • Don Bacon

    from the above banner:
    CLOSE TO SHORE, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. LCS IS READY.
    at the LM link:
    Learn how the littoral combat ship is designed to defeat growing threats in the coastal water battlespace . . .
    So why worry? (heh)

  • Jim Valle

    The Chinese assume that if they seriously menace Taiwan we will respond by sending CVN battle groups into the area. What better way to cancel out the threat of a 100,000 ton carrier, her 4,000 person crew and her ninety plane air group than with a slew of cheap, 58 man subs, any one of which can deliver the necessary death blow.
    How many of these el-cheapos would they expend to get just one of our carriers? I’d bet a lot of them. Just another example of countering our vastly expensive super weapons asymetricaly. How long must we play this game?

    • Don Bacon

      Yes, this type of “swarming” scenario with larger numbers of cheaper & simpler systems is symptomatic of the potential US military position on land, in the air at at sea.

  • life form

    Thanks for a really informative article.

  • Hugh

    And China’s reclaiming/building islands will certainly include passive underwater listening arrays to monitor all submarines.

    • Secundius

      @ Hugh.

      That not why there Reclaiming and/or Building Islands. Just inside Philippine Territorial Waters extended into the Philippine, is a Massive Underwater Oil Reserve. That’s why the PRC are extended their Territorial Claims. They what those Reserves, ALL FOR THEMSELVES…

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