Nuclear or conventional: Where China’s submarines should go

2022-07-16 0 By

China’s 055s are quietly entering service one by one, and the US is finally back in the great power race, launching the DDGX, a bit of a 21st century naval race.In addition to the newly launched DDGX, the US also recently launched the SSNX, which is in some ways a “Sea Wolf 2.0”, moving away from the Virginia-class low-cost, littoral warfare, multi-purpose route and heading straight for the theme of fighting for sea supremacy.The progress of China’s new generation of nuclear submarines is being kept secret, but the bigger question is: should China concentrate on developing nuclear submarines, or both?American submarines are all nuclearized long ago, as are British and French submarines.The Soviet Union has always been both nuclear and nuclear, but it is more nuclear than conventional submarines. Except for export, conventional submarines are mainly used in the closed Baltic and Black Seas, and there is really no need to pay too much attention to them.Historically, China has pursued both nuclear and nuclear programs, but it has given more weight to nuclear and less weight to nuclear programs, mainly because of national strength and technology.Now that China’s national strength has greatly developed, its nominal GDP increment in 2021 will exceed the nominal GDP stock of India in that year. Should the future development be completely focused?American submarines are completely nuclearized and are the envy of the world.Do Chinese submarines need to be nuclearized?There is no doubt about the superiority of nuclear submarine: unlimited diving, good concealment;Long time high speed diving.But the disadvantages are also obvious: high cost, high operating expenses, high requirements for crew training, high requirements for docking base, difficult to disassemble after decommissioning.Conventional submarines have the opposite advantages and disadvantages.The more weapons nuclear submarines can carry is a chicken versus duck issue.The typical nuclear submarine is much larger than the typical conventional submarine and certainly carries more weapons.If you compare the French Barracuda class (5,300 tons, nuclear powered) with the German 216 class (4,000 tons, conventional powered), the former carries 20 weapons (a mix of torpedoes, missiles, mines) and the latter 18, which is essentially the same considering the tonnage difference.The German class 216 represents the highest level of conventional submarines.China is a land and maritime complex country, with land power and sea power simultaneously.China’s land borders remain volatile, but it must be said that there is no longer much pressure.The longest China-Russia border has no security concerns for the foreseeable future, and neither does the China-Mongolia border.There is only counter-terrorism pressure on the border of Central Asia, not military invasion pressure, which is a completely different issue.There has never been any pressure on the Pakistan-China border, nor on the China-Nepal border.There is a threat of civil war on the Burmese side of the border, but a refugee threat, not a military invasion.China-thailand and China-Laos borders are as secure as china-Pakistan and China-Nepal borders.The border between China and Vietnam has been demarcated and Vietnam has understood the principle of “not messing with China”. There will be no major problems in the foreseeable future.Only the China-India border is always a problem, but border friction and military incursion are of a completely different nature and there is no question of military incursion in the direction of China and India.The border between China and North Korea is more complicated, and the resumption of war on the Korean Peninsula has always been an inescapable possibility, but now is not the time to resist the United States and aid North Korea, as long as South Korea and China maintain friendly relations, the second Korean War is preventable and controllable.But the sea is a different matter.Needless to say, if Taiwan takes a decisive step towards independence, war may break out at any time.This is first and foremost an air and sea war, but the Air and navy of Taiwan have been overwhelmed, and the AIR and navy of the United States are increasingly unable to fight in the Taiwan Sea.The marines’ island-hopping guerrilla movement is in itself a gesture of acknowledging that the enemy is strong and we are weak.The Post-Duterte Philippines is fast approaching and the political direction of the Philippines is highly uncertain.Mr Duterte is hardly pro-China, and his distancing from the US has elements of political opportunism that have been repeatedly resisted by pro-US forces in both the ruling and opposition parties.But the Philippines is not easily pro-American either. American power has been in the Philippines for more than 100 years. Filipinos do not need to look far to see how unreliable this is now.The Americans pulled out of Clark and Subic not only because of the eruption, but because they could no longer stay.But the military treaty between the United States and the Philippines remains, and the possibility of American troops returning to the Philippines remains.It is highly unlikely that the U.S. troops returning to the Philippines will land in China. However, it is almost certain that the war for reunification of the motherland will be thwarted in the air and sea. It is also highly likely that the U.S. will launch medium-range missiles and cruise missiles from land bases to disrupt the east China Sea.The South China Sea is related to the Philippines, but not the same.In rand’s assessment, the South China Sea is China’s weak link, and the United States can use its actions in the South China Sea to contain China’s actions in the Taiwan Strait, which is a naval and air war.In the East China Sea and yellow Sea, Japan’s direction in the Taiwan War is ambiguous.On the one hand, Japan is intensifying its bluster;On the other hand, Japan knows that its military power is insufficient to challenge China and influence the Taiwan Strait.Japan’s goal is to bring the United States into the game, but whether the United States enters the game depends ultimately on the United States.Whether the United States enters the water or not depends on China’s naval and air power. The powerful Chinese navy is the most powerful weapon to deter the United States, and submarines play a crucial role.A naval and air war may start in the Taiwan Strait, but the battlefield is likely to be not limited to the Taiwan Strait or the South China Sea, but to the western Pacific, or even the South Pacific and the Northern Indian Ocean.The best defense is offense. Only by taking the war to the enemy-occupied areas and mobilizing the enemy can we regain the initiative.In addition, China’s maritime transport lines are also all over the Seven Seas. If it cannot control the seven Seas, it should at least push the us long-range maritime blockade far away. Only in this way can the BLOCKADE of the US navy be stretched as far as possible, which not only increases the burden, but also creates attack opportunities.China’s lack of overseas bases makes it difficult to project air power beyond the Taiwan And South China Seas, or beyond neutral states into the Indian Ocean.The Chinese fleet will also face unimaginable difficulties in far-ocean operations without support, and the weak aircraft carrier fleet is not suitable for a lonely expedition.The U.S. Navy has 10 large deck aircraft carriers, which are still supported by a global base system.In this context, nuclear submarines are of unique importance.Nuclear submarines are capable of independent ocean-going operations, and are almost the only vessels that the Chinese navy can access the ocean without restrictions or dependence on overseas bases.Not only access to the open ocean, but also close proximity to enemy bases.Closing the door and hitting the dog is the most active anti-submarine method.Of course, blocking doors is something anyone can imagine, but blocking doors is not the same as blocking doors.Chinese submarines are based on the mainland and provide air and surface cover within the first island chain. They cannot be blocked if they want to be.When it comes to the first island chain, it is not easy to block it.The Okinawa chain was an ideal site for SOSUS, but the GIUK gap was already so heavily populated with SOSUS that Soviet submarines should still enter the North Atlantic.The Okinawa chain is only the most recent gateway into and out of the Western Pacific. The Bashi Channel in the South China Sea is another gateway, which is actually deeper and more accessible than the Okinawa chain.The Islands of the Philippines and Indonesia are very fragmented, and the Sunda strait and The Lombo Strait are the main entry points, while the Sulu Sea, Sulawesi Sea, Java Sea, Banda Sea, Timor Sea, Solomon Sea and Coral Sea are more difficult to block, requiring a large number of anti-submarine forces.The Strait of Malacca is too narrow and busy for submarines.In the open ocean, the nuclear submarine is wide enough to dive.Nuclear submarine is the best anti-submarine platform, is also the most powerful anti-aircraft carrier platform, hit general warships, merchant ships is a knife to kill chicken.Nuclear submarines can also carry cruise missiles and, in the future, hypersonic missiles that can be launched from unexpected directions and have disproportionate land attack power.Nuclear submarine is reconnaissance, electronic warfare weapon, or remote deployment of special forces ideal platform.Solitary U.S. ships on patrol in the Pacific and Indian Oceans are also ideal targets for nuclear submarine attacks.To put it simply, vigorously developing advanced nuclear submarines is the top priority of The Chinese Navy. Now that the construction of aircraft carriers and destroyers has been on the right track, it is especially necessary to accelerate the development of nuclear submarines.The US Navy needs SSNX, and the Chinese Navy needs SSNX even more, i.e., the highest level of nuclear submarines that are fast, quiet and carry a large number of weapons, not just “solve the problem first”.At the very least, it should be equipped with a multi-purpose launch capability like the Virginia-class VPM.However, Chinese submarines not only have the task of blocking and breaking others’ doors, but also the task of preventing others from blocking and breaking China’s door.Nuclear submarines can also perform these tasks, but are not the most cost-efficient option.Chinese doors are segmented.In the vicinity of the Taiwan Strait, the door on the Okinawa chain to bashi Channel line.There are three routes to the Philippines. One is along the palawan Islands, which is at the edge of the South China Sea.The second line is in the Sulu Islands, between the Sulu and Sulawesi seas;The third route is the Sangikh Islands, which are right on the edge of the western Pacific Ocean.There is also the Indonesian archipelago, divided into two doors, one in the Java Sea on the north side facing the South China Sea Riau Islands, the other in the south side facing the Indian Ocean sunda Strait, lombok Strait and East Timor.The most important of these doors are Okinawa and the Bashi Channel, and the most broken are the Philippines and Indonesia.These are, of course, very rough divisions.Okinawa to the bashi channel is one of China’s coastal defense key positions of the Philippine islands more broken Indonesia sunda strait and lombok strait is the two other important gateway of Okinawa and the bashi channel is not more than 7800 kilometers away from China, under the China air and protection of the effective, also be in shallow sea and continental shelf is the ideal of conventional submarines battlefield.If the Philippines falls towards the Sulu islands and The Sangihe Islands, it will be difficult to defend these two gates, which are the internal waters of the Philippines.Palawan is no more than 1,500km from mainland China, still within the operational range of conventional submarines.Compared with nuclear submarines, conventional submarines have a much lower crossing speed.Nuclear submarines can easily reach speeds of 20 knots, while conventional submarines typically reach speeds of only 4 knots and take much longer to reach combat positions.Conventional submarines also need to float for air and recharge for long distance voyages, which should be in friendly (or at least non-hostile) waters.Conventional submarines can carry out anti-submarine warfare, but the low Angle of sustained diving speed determines that it is not suitable to chase nuclear submarines in the ocean, and it is better to wait for them in key waterways.Unlike surface warships and merchant ships, which are easy to spot, conventional submarines have not only torpedoes but also long-range missiles that can be guided from the outside of the ship, thus controlling much more of the sea.It is one of the important tasks for China to control the first island chain to prevent hostile ships from entering, attack patrol formations and intercept shipping in hostile areas.At a time when the US Marine Corps pays attention to island-hopping guerrillas, it is an important part of the first island chain operations to conduct covert reconnaissance, launch attacks with land attack firepower and even send special forces to harass islands.Nuclear submarines can go underwater all the way, while conventional submarines need to come up for air and recharge from time to time, but in wartime, the time between attack and return to port is virtually the same, around 90 days.Longer voyages are not a question of time, but of the physiological limits of the crew.In addition, the submarine ammunition after the depletion, or can only return to the base supply.You can’t run out of ammo in 90 days out there. That’s not war time.Nuclear submarines carry more ammunition because they have more tonnage.But the cost of nuclear energy varies widely.In the 2016 submarine bidding, the German class 216 (much larger than the 1,900-ton Class 214) was quoted at a third of the French price, according to Australian media. (France’s nuclear barracuda is not much cheaper than its conventional short-fin barracuda, so France does not build its own barracuda except for export.)Conventional submarines can be built in 3 to 1 numbers for the same investment.Based on the typical combat distance of Okinawa, Bashi channel and even Palawan, assuming a crossing distance of 1000 nautical miles and a conventional submarine crossing speed of 4 knots, it would take 10 days to reach combat position. Out of 90 days of deployment, 20 days would be used for crossing back and forth and 70 days would be spent in combat position.With a speed of 20 knots, it takes 2.5 days for a nuclear submarine to reach its combat position, 5 days for a round-trip crossing, and 85 days in combat position.210-day operational time requires 3 conventional submarines and 2.5 nuclear submarines, which are much more cost-effective.Even if the combat zone is set to be farther and the crossing distance is 2,000 nautical miles, it takes 20 days for a conventional submarine to reach combat position. Of the 90 days deployed, 40 days need to be spent making the crossing back and forth, and 50 days in combat position.It takes five days for a nuclear submarine to reach combat position, only 10 days for a round-trip trip, and 80 days out of 90 deployed days to stay in combat position.The 150-day combat time can be met with 3 conventional submarines, but it needs 2 nuclear submarines. The efficiency and cost ratio of conventional submarines in the middle and near seas is still higher.The French Barracuda class is still small, and compared with the larger Virginia-class, conventional submarines are more cost-effective.The 2019 Virginia class is priced at $2.8 billion, and the 2021 Block V with VPM is priced at $3.45 billion.France’s nuclear-powered Barracuda class cost $1.55 billion per unit in 2014.The next generation SSNX will be built at a much higher cost than the Virginian class.The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of the Seawwolf class at $5 billion in 2018, and SSNX’s economies of scale are unlikely to fall below that.That’s a 10-to-1 cost difference compared to tier 216.This is based on the 4,000t German class 216, not the 1,900t Class 214.The French Barracuda class costs three times as much as the 216 class because it pursues the performance of “nuclear submarine without nuclear power,” which greatly distorts the cost.But 4000T conventional submarine has enough tonnage, using AIP propulsion, diving time greatly increased, not only anti-ship, anti-submarine is powerful enough, but also can insert the vertical section, carrying cruise missiles, and has the ability to send special forces.The Swedish A26 class has such a design.China’s 039 series is a good starting point, but the new single-layer shell is more suitable for future development.Russia has also abandoned the traditional double hull, with the new Lada class using a single hull, as does the nuclear-powered Yasen class, which can achieve more useful capacity for the same tonnage.SSNX is China’s next generation nuclear submarine in terms of nuclear submarines, there is no literature first, there is no military second, China’s next generation nuclear submarine competition is SSNX, France “barracuda” class “medium nuclear submarine” meaning little to China.The Virginia-class was a post-Cold War detour, with a smaller hull diameter than the Seawwolf, reduced reactor power, speed and cost.Only the overwhelming superiority of American submarine technology has prevented the embarrassment of the Zumwalt class and the LITtoral Combat ship.SSNX is a necessary move after returning to great power competition.The Chinese SSNX is definitely cheaper than the US, but so is the China 216, which still costs about the same.China needs enough nuclear submarines to compete with the United States in any given maritime battlefield, and enough conventional submarines to “guard the door.”Due to the needs of China’s unique battlefield, It is not necessary for China’s submarines to be completely nuclearized, nor should they focus on nuclear weapons over conventional weapons like the Soviet Union.There was a time when China was fast in flying and diving, but that was due to the lack of large surface warships.Now we still need to fly submarine ships, missile speedboats to large warships, aircraft is not only shore-based aircraft, but also carrier-borne aircraft, but submarines are still important.China needs a lot of submarines, and it needs both nuclear and conventional weapons, because China’s naval battle fields need attack by nuclear submarines and defense by conventional submarines