China has done something not usually seen in war games – and the US has taken full advantage of the opportunity.
The missile is designed to keep submarines secret. They submerge to keep their nuclear arsenal out of sight. So when someone parades on the surface, the world pays attention.
Military analyst HI Sutton this week highlighted the surface transit of a Chinese Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) submarine. taiwan strait,
Its appearance was captured in an open-source image Monday, Nov. 29, by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 Earth observation satellite.
“Although Sentinel-2 is low resolution, the wake pattern is characteristic of a submarine with a distinctive rounded bow. The length is best suited to the Type 094, and the reference aligns,” Sutton Notes,
Mr Sutton explains that the submarine was probably headed to a naval shipyard for repairs or upgrades.
But timing seems like some coincidence.
“Boomers”, as ICBM missile-carrying submarines are called, could act as an intimidation for Taiwan.
This is something Beijing has done before.
Maintenance or Message?
At the height of a “reunification” crisis in 1996, when Taiwan held its first democratic presidential election, People’s Liberation Army Navy (Plan) A “boomer” surfaced in the Taiwan Strait. It was amid a series of high-profile war games and missile test firings designed to showcase Beijing’s displeasure over Taiwan’s act of self-determination.
Taiwan was at it again on Monday.
A US lawmaker visited Taipei over the weekend, in defiance of Beijing’s demands that it have total jurisdiction over the island. China shows its displeasure by sending 27 fighter jets around Taiwan on Sunday.
Taipei also accepted an invitation to a Washington-initiated Summit for Democracy called in response to the growing authoritarianism of China and Russia. And a delegation from Lithuania was also visiting Taipei in open defiance of Beijing’s wolf warrior diplomats and threats of economic coercion.
Such signs of independence rarely go without a demonstration of Beijing’s ability to “reunify by force”.
And submarines are rarely seen unless they want to be seen. Submarines remain invisible for a reason.
A lot can be learned from them when one knows where they are.
Their wake reveals a great deal about the shape and performance of their hull. Specific sounds can be recorded and recognized. And that’s with more mundane details like speed and surface stability.
In this case, it appears that the United States has taken advantage of the opportunity to do so.
Beijing University’s South China Sea Probing Initiative – which bypasses China’s strict restrictions on posting on Western social media – has highlighted a surveillance overflight. A US Navy P-8A Poseidon submarine hunter passed over the length of the Taiwan Strait on the same day.
submarine arms race
Beijing is expressed great displeasure On the announcement by Australia of a technology-sharing agreement with the US and UK to build “boomer” hunting nuclear-powered attack submarines.
But it is busy building its own force.
China first deployed the Type 094 “Jin” class in 2010. It is a large, nuclear-powered ship intended to carry 12 JL-2 ballistic missiles with a nuclear warhead.
While China has built the first “Boomer”, this class is considered the first to be successful.
Beijing has six ballistic missile-carrying submarines.
It also operates about six nuclear-powered attack submarines and 50 diesel-electric attack submarines.
“This is where the fighting is… where the competition is,” Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis, then-commander of the US Second Fleet, said late last year. “Anti-submarine warfare is a primary mission for everyone in the United States Navy, regardless of what you wear on your chest.”
Submarine technology is considered one of the last areas in which the West holds an advantage. Beijing has tried to balance it in huge numbers. And the Pentagon suspects that the artificial island fortresses it has built in the South China Sea are intended to make the waterway a safe haven for them.
A recent Pentagon report The area highlighted the dubious capability of a new class of “boomers” to fire a new type of ballistic missile at the US.
“The Type 096 SSBN will reportedly be equipped with a follow-on SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile), and will likely start manufacturing in early 2020,” the report said. “The current range limits of the JL-2 (SLBM) will require Jin to operate in areas north and east of Hawaii if the PRC wants to target the East Coast of the United States.”
The new Type 096 is expected to enter service in 2025.
Jamie Seidel is a freelance writer. @JamieSeidel