By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer
In June 2016, China’s navy released a clear photo of its newest, stealthiest nuclear attack submarine (SSN) being loaded with missiles. China’s nuclear submarines are among the most secretive Chinese military platforms–it’s a rare event to have even a photo of a 40-year-old Type 091 Han submarine, or the Type 092 Xia nuclear ballistic missile submarine. So an official photo of a modern Type 093B submarine is definitely big news in the world of People’s Liberation Army-watching.
The Type 093B “Shang” nuclear attack submarine is quiet, fast and the first Chinese combat submarine to be able to fire vertically launched cruise missiles. The United States Defense Department believes that three Type 093B SSNs were launched in 2015, and may enter service later this year. The original two Type 093 SSNs, launched nearly 15 years ago, were plagued by noisy reactors and propulsion systems, especially at high speeds, which limited their combat utility by making them highly detectable to enemy anti-submarine efforts. The Type 093B, in contrast, uses advances in Chinese metallurgy and reactor design to make a more quiet submarine. Experts place its stealthiness between that of the USN Los Angeles Flight I and Flight III SSNs. Read more