Satellite images give prospects for China’s new class of submarines

Military analysts say a ship discovered at a Chinese shipyard in rare recent satellite images could be a new or upgraded class of nuclear-powered attack submarines. grant.

It is not clear if the submarine is a new model, an upgrade of an existing one or something else. However, diplomats and analysts have been watching closely after a Pentagon report in November said the Chinese navy is likely to build a new attack submarine within the next few years. Vertical launch tube for cruise missiles.

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Images obtained by Reuters from private satellite imagery provider Planet Labs and others circulating on social media show the submarine in a dock in the port of Huludao, Liaoning province.

Green covers the shroud areas behind the superstructure and stern, analysts say, parts of the ship that could house rocket launchers and a new, quieter propulsion system. , analysts said. Such clear images of submarines in the dock are rarely seen.

The submarine emerged from the water between 24 April and 4 May, and was later seen nearly submerged after the dock was flooded.

Singapore-based security scholar Collin Koh says it is very interested in the prospect of a new class of China’s Type 093 “killer” submarines with vertical launch tubes for guided missiles. However, he said recent satellite images were too limited to pinpoint the ship.

Koh, of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the images were “very interesting but it’s still difficult to be sure if we’re looking at some type of submarine for testing or an entirely class of submarines.” new”.

Koh said he and others are watching closely to see if China’s new submarines will switch to quieter jet pumps instead of conventional propellers for propulsion. Because the stern is shielded, it is impossible to say what type of engine the ship in the photo uses.

Vertical launch tubes will add considerable flexibility to China’s fleet of “killer-hunting” submarines, arming the ships with more guided missiles.

China’s Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

China’s attack submarines are evolving to address a potentially growing array of needs, from protecting ballistic missile submarines and the PLA’s aircraft carrier battle groups. Chinese people to track enemy ships.

Jeffrey Lewis, professor of arms control at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, said the latest images raise more questions than answers about whether they reveal a new class of ships.

“That makes sense, but there are questions I would like answered. It hasn’t been in the dock for very long and it’s not clear how they might have reconfigured the submarine,” he said. “With the Pentagon report, there’s certainly a lot of interest.”

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