Over at Eastern Arsenal, Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer, are discussing in detail a new Chinese submarine simulator that could provide clues what could become Beijing’s stealthiest (and deadliest) nuclear-attack submarine (SSN) when it enters service in two to four years – the Type 095 (Chinese designation: 09-V).
Once in service, the Type 095 will “provide a generational improvement in many areas such as quieting and weapon capacity,” the Pentagon’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) states in an unclassified assessment of the Chinese navy’s new capabilities and missions in the years ahead.
So far, no Type 095 vessel has been launched and there is sparse information on the subs’ capabilities, save that it will be equipped with a new vertical launching system capable of firing supersonic anti-ship missiles, and that it will boast improved speed, reduced noise, and an increased operational range, in comparison to its predecessor the Type-093 Shang-class second-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine.
Pictures of the Type 095 SSN simulator show a mockup bridge with controls and computer systems to familiarize future crewmen with the ships’ new combat system. Lin and Singer also note that the simulator will be used to “to test crews’ group dynamics when faced with combat and mechanical emergencies, as well as to refine the combat system using simulation feedback.”
According to Lin and Singer, the implications of the existence of the Type 095 simulator are the following:
The PLAN’s willingness to build a submarine simulator at this early stage suggests that not only will the Type 095 SSN be a significant improvement over its predecessor, but that its systems, such as a quieter reactor and improved sonar, are likely progressing as well.
As I noted before (see: “China’s New ‘Carrier Killer’ Subs”), the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) could choose to re-designate the upgraded Type-093G Shang-class as Type-095 SSNs, should all public reports on the vessel prove accurate.
This would indicate that Type 095 SSNs would be more on par with 1980s NATO nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines (i.e. roughly three decades behind current Western sub technology), rather than new U.S. Virginia-class vessels, despite Chinese media reports to the contrary.
Nevertheless, the upgraded Type-093G Shang-class as well as the new Type-095 SSNs will still prove quite deadly in Asian waters, since they will field China’s most modern supersonic anti-ship missile, the YJ-18, specifically designed to defeat the Aegis Combat System and has often been described as a “carrier killer” weapon.
Also, Lin and Singer project:
If the Type 095 SSN lives up to expectations of matching current foreign SSNs like the USN’s Los Angeles 688i class or Russian Akula II SSN, it would provide China with a quantum leap in underwater warfare capabilities.
ONI assesses that “by 2020 the [PLAs]submarine force will likely grow to more than 70 submarines.” Furthermore the ONI reports notes that “[m]ajor qualitative improvements are occurring within naval aviation and the submarine force, which are increasingly capable of striking targets hundreds of miles from the Chinese mainland.”