Wed, Apr 01, 2015 - Page 3 News List

China’s mini-submarine ‘making neighbors nervous’

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

China is designing a nuclear submarine that incorporates a mini-submarine that could be used to land special operations forces on nearby targets, such as Taiwan.

The Shang-class nuclear-powered attack submarine — known as Type-93T — has been reported over the past week by US media outlets and in Jane’s Defence Weekly.

The new nuclear submarine is apparently a version of an earlier boat that has been modified for coastal warfare, International Assessment and Strategy Center senior fellow in Asian military affairs Rick Fisher told the Taipei Times.

“Its distinctive features reportedly include a lock-out chamber aft the sail for housing a special operations forces transport vehicle,” Fisher said.

The big submarine might also have a six-blade propeller instead of the usual seven blades so that it can move more quietly in shallow waters and maneuver close to shore.

Fisher says that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan cannot succeed without the successful early landing of special operations forces to secure ports and airfields for follow-on troops.

“For Taiwan, countering the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) special operations forces threat will require much greater public education and enabling police and militia forces to respond immediately with superior firepower,” Fisher said.

He also said that some sources believe China has kept more than 20 of its Type-033 conventional submarines for transporting special operations forces to nearby potential targets, such as Taiwan.

It is conceivable that using the new nuclear-powered submarine with the mini-submarine attached, and also using conventional submarines, that the PLA could put 2,000 “very effective special operations troops on Taiwan to facilitate early invasion objectives,” Fisher said.

“These forces could very effectively attack coastal targets or quickly don disguises to attack military or political targets inland,” he said.

Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that in addition to the mini-submarine facility, the new nuclear submarine has four sonar areas along the side of the boat and fixtures for a towed sonar array.

“It is making neighbors nervous,” US Naval Institute News said.

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