The Chinese Navy in in the process of commissioning three new nuclear-powered attack submarines, according to China Daily. The report, quoted on the website Defense Tech, furthermore notes that the new vessels will be equipped with a new vertical launching system capable of firing supersonic anti-ship missiles.
The “new” SSNs are in fact, upgraded versions of the Type-093 Shang-class second-generation nuclear-powered attack submarines, two of which are currently in service in the People’s Liberation Army Navy. The upgrades are designated Type-093G.
“The Type-093G is reported to be an upgraded version of Type-093… With a teardrop hull, the submarine is longer than its predecessor and has a vertical launching system,” China Daily said.
However, the Chinese PLAN could also choose to re-designate the ships as Type-095 SSGNs, should all public reports on the vessel prove accurate.
Next to improved speed, reduced noise, and an increased operational range, the upgraded Type-093G Shang-class will be able to fire China’s most modern supersonic anti-ship missile, the YJ-18, the report states. There is sparse open source information available on this new missile, which is specifically designed to defeat the Aegis Combat System.
Nevertheless, writing on an older variant of the YJ-18, the YJ-12 ASCM, an analyst notes that it is, “the most dangerous anti-ship missile China has produced thus far, posing an even greater risk to the U.S. Navy’s surface forces in the Western Pacific than the much-discussed DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile.”
The missile, he continues, has “a range of 400 kilometers, making it one of the longest-ranged ASCMs ever fielded (and much longer than the 124 kilometer limit of the U.S. Navy Harpoon).” According to some reports, YJ-12 boasts a speed of up to Mach 3 and can perform evasive maneuvers in air before hitting the target. Writing on an air-attack scenario the analyst points out what potentially could make the YJ-12 a “carrier killer” — its range and speed:
Crucially, at 400 kilometers, Chinese attack aircraft will be able to launch the YJ-12 beyond the engagement range of the Navy’s Aegis Combat System and the SM-2 surface-to-air missiles that protect U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups. (…) The YJ-12s would employ a variety of sensor types to find their targets and execute dramatic cork-screw turns to evade final defenses…