Is China About to Give Its Best Fighters Powerful New Jet Engines?


A game-changer?

by Sebastien Roblin

March 5, 2020

Key point: Beijing wants the best for its vaunted fighter jets. And that means better engines to allow them to compete with America’s finest.

In a 2018 Zhuhai airshow in China, a specially modified Chengdu J-10B single-engine multi-role jet wowed audiences with a series of jaw-dropping maneuvers including the famous Pugachev’s Cobra and the Falling Leaf, in which the diving aircraft spun laterally on its horizontal aircraft as it seemingly floated lazily towards the ground. You can see the stunts in this video.

This first appeared in 2018 and is being reposted due to reader interest.

Like its American counterpart the F-16 jet, the J-10—dubbed the Vigorous Dragon, or the Firebird by NATO—is a quite agile fourth-generation jet with an aerodynamically unstable airframe that has to be regulated by its flight control computer. But such maneuvers would have been impossible for a regular plane relying entirely upon conventional flight controls.

The secret-sauce in the J-10B at Zhuhai was its powerplant: instead of the usual Russian AL-31F(N) turbofan, it boasted a WS-10B Taihang engine normally reserved for use on the larger twin-engine Chengdu J-20 Mighty Dragon stealth fighter.

More importantly, this particular Taihang (labeled the WS-10G in some sources) was modified with three-dimensional Thrust Vector Controls (TVC) allowing the pilot to redirect the engine’s thrust by tilting the exhaust nozzles side by side as well as up and down.

This enhances the jet’s ability to adjust pitch, roll and yaw, granting the J-10B super-maneuverable flight characteristics, in which the pilot retains control of the aircraft during a stall, unlike for a conventional plane.

Aside from various testbeds, the United States only operationally deploys a single TVC-equipped fighter, the super high-performing F-22 Raptor air superiority stealth fighter equipped with two-dimensional TVC. Lockheed did not incorporate TVC in the later F-35 Lightning attack-oriented stealth jet.

Russia has adopted TVC engines on a larger-scale in the fourth-generation Su-30MK, Su-35S and MiG-35 fighters, as well as its Su-57 stealth fighter. China’s purchase of 36 Su-35 fighters in 2016 likely gave it access to technology it used to inform the TVC-equipped WS-10.

The ability to perform tight maneuvers is obviously slick card for pilots to hold up their sleeve in a within-visual range dogfight, potentially allowing them to outmaneuver nearby foes and possibly dodge an incoming missile.

But the value of incorporating heavier and more expensive TVC engines remains debated in Western aviation circles, because performing such extreme maneuvers drains away the jet’s energy in terms of speed and altitude that can be traded for speed. That means that a tight maneuver may pay off against an immediate threat, but then leave the TVC-equipped jet in question a ponderous state in which it would struggle to evade follow-up attacks.

It’s alleged that over-reliance on thrust-vectoring led to the defeat of Indian Air Force Su-30MKI fighters which dueled American F-15C jets in a Red Flag exercise in 2008.

Another issue is that the advent of high-off-boresight missiles like the American AIM-9X and Russian R-73 missiles and helmet-mounted sights on the latest fourth-generation fighters allow pilots to launch short-range air-to-air missiles at targets without having the nose of the plane pointed at them (though being so positioned remains desirable due to the added momentum.) This reduces, but hardly eliminates, the advantages granted by superior maneuverability.

The Troubled Taihang

Photos have revealed additional J-10Bs and more advanced J-10Cs modified as WS-10B testbeds, both with and without thrust-vectoring. in November 2019, photos emerged of a yellow composite-skinned J-10C with production model serials equipped with higher-thrust non-TVC WS-10B turbofans.

Furthermore, a J-20 stealth fighter testbed equipped with a thrust-vectoring engine is also known to exist.

China has for years struggled to get its indigenous WS-10 turbofans, particularly their metallurgy and single-crystal fan blades, to perform to the specifications and reliability required of them. Reportedly, early WS-10s had to be returned to the factory for refurbishment after only a few dozen flight hours.

For that reason, its J-20 stealth fighters often make do with lower-thrust Russian AL-31F engines, and so the beastly stealth jet has yet to attain its full projected performance characteristics.

After years of refinements, J-10 and J-20 manufacturer CAIG hopes the WS-10B model marks a more consistent step up in thrust and performance while China completes the development of a much higher-performance WS-15 turbofan.

The WS-15 is projected to generate 40,000 pounds of thrust, possibly boosting J-20 speeds to the point it can super cruise—fly supersonic in level flight without using fuel-gulping afterburners. The WS-15 is also speculated to feature three-dimensional thrust vectoring.

The question that emerges, therefore is whether the multiple J-10 TVC testbeds indicate China intends to build a higher-thrust, and possibly thrust-vectoring J-10D production model to succeed its very respectable J-10C fighter (detailed further in a companion article).

Or do the tests instead indicate CAIG’s focus on making thrust-vectoring J-20 stealth fighters? Dr. Andreas Rupprecht, author of the Modern Chinese Warplanes series of books, told Defense News earlier in 2019 it’s more likely that the J-10 engine testbeds are being used to test capabilities that will make their way into new WS-15 engine planned for the J-20.

The predominant theory in western circles is that beefy J-20 is exhibiting high-speed but inferior maneuverability, making it best suited for hit-and-run style attacks. But China’s evident sustained interest in testing agility-enhancing TVC engines may support a counternarrative that the J-20 is intended to evolve into a more well-rounded jet once upgraded with new engines, one that could more than hold its own in within-visual range combat.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring. This first appeared in 2018 and is being reposted due to reader interest.


American Submarines Are in the Crosshairs of China


China will deploy a force of aerial drones to stalk American submarines in the Western Pacific.

by Lyle J. Goldstein

November 17, 2019

China has been steadily improving its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities to cope with a perceived, major asymmetry in undersea warfare capabilities. Additionally, when Beijing began filling out its navy with major surface combatants, including aircraft carriers, cruisers and now large amphibious attack ships, there has been a rather visible and understandable uptick in Chinese attempts to protect these new investments from submarine attack.

Some of these developments in Chinese ASW over the last decade have included building a formidable force of light frigates that are equipped with towed sonar arrays, fielding a vertically launched “rocket torpedo” as a standard weapon in its fleet, deploying a new maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) that is optimized for ASW and developing ocean bottom sensor networks in and around its key naval bases. Some coming attractions in this area will include a new generation of Chinese ASW helicopters (both Z-18 and Z-20), as well as a system of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) that will perform various missions, including especially surveillance and laying sea-mines, at least at the outset.

Now, a new threat to the dominance of the U.S. submarine force in the Western Pacific lies over the horizon. A series of recent articles published in China implies that the PLA Navy is hard at work on developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that will take up the ASW mission. That could eventually pose a major problem for the undersea forces of the United States and also for the forces of its allies.

One article, published in the Chinese journal Fire Control & Command [火力与指挥控制] in mid-July, is a collaborative research project between the Naval Command College in Nanjing and the Naval Aeronautical University in Yantai. The research focuses on the potential for UAVs to support an MPA in the “cooperative use of sono-buoys for the purposes of conducting a submarine search.” The article explains that sono-buoys are one of the main tools for hunting submarines, especially over a large sea area. These authors project that “Given the wide array of possibilities to employ UAVs, it’s quite possible that they will play a large role in the future of anti-submarine warfare [随着无人机的广泛运用在未来反潜作战中很可能发挥重要角色].”

Primis Player Placeholder

This analysis begins by discussing various advantages and disadvantages of manned MPAs for ASW, such as the U.S. Navy’s vaunted P-8 Poseidon. Not only can that aircraft carry 120 sono-buoys, but it is capable of monitoring 60 of these buoys simultaneously, according to this Chinese rendering. Such aircraft are capable of “independent” missions against submarines, as they can conduct search, track, and attack functions. However, there is a fly in the ointment, of course, and this analysis emphasizes that such lumbering aircraft themselves have minimal self-defense capability and thus “may very easily become targets of attack [很容易被作为攻击目标]” by enemy interceptors. Another problem is that the length of the missions can be exceedingly taxing for the crews, so that the overall submarine search efficiency of the aircraft may decrease.

The argument is made in this Chinese analysis that unmanned aircraft can be of considerable assistance in such circumstances. It is said that UAVs frequently fly for more than forty hours but are capable of flights that last over days or even weeks. While generally not fast moving, they are still considerably faster than surface ships that are also employed for the ASW mission. It is projected, moreover, that they may sometimes be able to fly over air defenses. But the biggest selling point for UAVs in this role is that they are so much cheaper than both submarine-hunting large MPAs, and quite obviously also their quarry, the submarines. In other words, such economical approaches to the undersea rivalry in the Western Pacific could put Beijing on the right end of a “cost-imposition” strategy. This Chinese analysis, moreover, implies that unmanned aircraft need not accomplish all aspects of the ASW mission. They could play the reasonably simple role of information relay platforms. They could also help to reduce the complexity of the daunting tasks that currently confront MPA crews. Of course, they could also take greater risks by entering “situations of contested airspace [敌空中威胁情况].” Lower costs, naturally enough, also mean that many airframes, coordinating together, could be deployed for any given search operation. Mathematical modeling of ASW operations in this piece yields the conclusion that UAVs do significantly increase the efficiency of submarine hunting.

A second article, from a late 2018 edition of Chinese Journal of Ship Research [中国舰船研究], endeavors to explore the “search/attack submarine integration [搜攻潜一体化]” functions of a fixed-wing UAV for ASW by studying the issue of optimizing payloads. This author, from the Jiangsu Automation Research Institute, asserts that “all navies are reforming ASW models.” He contends that there is an “urgent need for greater range, larger search areas, longer search periods, as well as cheaper methods of sensing, detection, tracking, and prosecuting submarines.” The paper discusses some foreign designs, including the U.S military’s MQ-9 UAV.

Owing mostly to the cost issue, this analysis also holds that UAVs for ASW have “obvious advantages” over manned aircraft. Interestingly, this Chinese study asserts that “weaponization is the basic trend for fixed-wing unmanned ASW aircraft [武器化是固定翼反潜无人机的基本特点].” But the most remarkable part of this particular discussion is the recognition that these UAVs might well operate from Chinese aircraft carriers. That is a rather bold call given that China has yet to demonstrate success in operating UAVs from aircraft carriers, but it does neatly illustrate Beijing’s priority on protecting its new capital ships, as noted in this paper’s introduction. Reviewing sample flight profiles, this analysis sees an ASW UAV that is capable of a patrol radius of six hundred kilometers for its land-based variant and perhaps three hundred kilometers for its carrier-based variant.

The above articles offer a glimpse of yet more coming attractions from the Chinese Navy. Indeed, the naval air arm of the PLA Navy is now starting to make rapid progress in line with its subsurface and surface forces. This news is quite disturbing as it fits a developing pattern of Beijing employing its new prowess in artificial intelligence to solve difficult battlefield dilemmas. What’s still more troubling is that if Chinese missiles and aircraft succeed in destroying U.S. and allied airbases in the Western Pacific during the initial phase of any military contingency, whether over Taiwan or the South China Sea, that might well leave myriad Chinese drone aircraft the freedom to roam and aggressively stalk previously nearly invulnerable American submarines.

Source: National Interest “American Submarines Are in the Crosshairs of China”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


US-China relations: America is looking to outgun PLA in Indo-Pacific, observers say


  • Military chiefs are reviewing their deployments in region to ensure they have sufficient firepower and troops to counter any threat from China, analysts say
  • America worried its fleets will be kicked out of the western Pacific, naval expert says
US Army Chief of Staff James McConville says he is was making “long-range precision fire” his top priority. Photo: EPA-EFE
US Army Chief of Staff James McConville says he is was making “long-range precision fire” his top priority. Photo: EPA-EFE

The United States is reviewing its military deployments in the Indo-Pacific region to ensure it has sufficient firepower and troops to counter any threat from China, analysts say.

US Army Chief of Staff James McConville said at a recent online event hosted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank, he was making “long-range precision fire” his top priority and was looking at options for basing such weapons systems in the Indo-Pacific as part of America’s deterrence strategy.

The changes “will allow us to overmatch” potential adversaries like China and Russia, he said, adding the move would also include “establishing joint all-domain task forces”.

McConville’s comments came after US Marine Corps commander General David Berger said in March in his “Force Design 2030” plan he wanted to reduce the role of marines in ground warfare and leave the bulk of that responsibility to regular troops.

Song Zhongping, a military expert based in Hong Kong, said the overhaul was part of

US President Donald Trump’s Indo-Pacific strategy

to contain China.

The US has been carrying out exercises involving the deployment of F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters on the USS America. Photo: TNS
The US has been carrying out exercises involving the deployment of F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters on the USS America. Photo: TNS

“The goal is to block all channels in the East and South China seas and work with its regional allies to stop PLA [People’s Liberation Army] fleets from breaking the ‘first island chain’ established by Washington [during the Cold War].”

On a trip to Tokyo last month, Berger discussed with his Japanese counterpart the possibility of deploying mobile US marine units in Okinawa.
They would be armed with anti-ship and air-defence missiles, and would work closely with Japanese forces to prevent easy access to the Pacific for China’s military, he said.

According to the Stars and Stripes report, the US military has also been carrying out exercises involving the deployment of about a dozen F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters on the USS America, an amphibious assault ship.

Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said the experiment was a response to the PLA’s expansion of its naval and air combat capacity.
“The US is worried its fleets will be kicked out of the western Pacific,” he said.

The PLA had sufficient firepower to take on American fleets in the event of an offshore battle, Li said.

“China’s Type PCL191 multiple launch rocket systems, which have a range up to 400km [250 miles], and other rocket launchers are the most efficient low-cost option for dealing with head-to-head conflicts,” he said.

“The PLA is also developing a new high-frequency surface wave radar system to detect stealth fighter jets like the F-35, and other advanced electronic warfare weapons.”

Song said the biggest difficulty the US was likely to face with its containment strategy was maintaining cooperation with its allies.

“Beijing’s best countermeasure is to disrupt that alliance,” he said.

“At the moment, only Australia is listening to the US. Its other allies, like Japan, Singapore, the Philippines and the other members of Asean [the

Association of Southeast Asian Nations

] are undecided about what to do as they don’t want to take sides between Beijing and Washington.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: US ‘looking to outgun PLA in Pacific’

Source: SCMP “US-China relations: America is looking to outgun PLA in Indo-Pacific, observers say”

Note: This is SCMP’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


American Submarines Are in the Crosshairs of China


China will deploy a force of aerial drones to stalk American submarines in the Western Pacific.

by Lyle J. Goldstein Nov. 17, 2019

China has been steadily improving its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities to cope with a perceived, major asymmetry in undersea warfare capabilities. Additionally, when Beijing began filling out its navy with major surface combatants, including aircraft carriers, cruisers and now large amphibious attack ships, there has been a rather visible and understandable uptick in Chinese attempts to protect these new investments from submarine attack.

Some of these developments in Chinese ASW over the last decade have included building a formidable force of light frigates that are equipped with towed sonar arrays, fielding a vertically launched “rocket torpedo” as a standard weapon in its fleet, deploying a new maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) that is optimized for ASW and developing ocean bottom sensor networks in and around its key naval bases. Some coming attractions in this area will include a new generation of Chinese ASW helicopters (both Z-18 and Z-20), as well as a system of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) that will perform various missions, including especially surveillance and laying sea-mines, at least at the outset.

Now, a new threat to the dominance of the U.S. submarine force in the Western Pacific lies over the horizon. A series of recent articles published in China implies that the PLA Navy is hard at work on developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that will take up the ASW mission. That could eventually pose a major problem for the undersea forces of the United States and also for the forces of its allies.

One article, published in the Chinese journal Fire Control & Command [火力与指挥控制] in mid-July, is a collaborative research project between the Naval Command College in Nanjing and the Naval Aeronautical University in Yantai. The research focuses on the potential for UAVs to support an MPA in the “cooperative use of sono-buoys for the purposes of conducting a submarine search.” The article explains that sono-buoys are one of the main tools for hunting submarines, especially over a large sea area. These authors project that “Given the wide array of possibilities to employ UAVs, it’s quite possible that they will play a large role in the future of anti-submarine warfare [随着无人机的广泛运用在未来反潜作战中很可能发挥重要角色].”

This analysis begins by discussing various advantages and disadvantages of manned MPAs for ASW, such as the U.S. Navy’s vaunted P-8 Poseidon. Not only can that aircraft carry 120 sono-buoys, but it is capable of monitoring 60 of these buoys simultaneously, according to this Chinese rendering. Such aircraft are capable of “independent” missions against submarines, as they can conduct search, track, and attack functions. However, there is a fly in the ointment, of course, and this analysis emphasizes that such lumbering aircraft themselves have minimal self-defense capability and thus “may very easily become targets of attack [很容易被作为攻击目标]” by enemy interceptors. Another problem is that the length of the missions can be exceedingly taxing for the crews, so that the overall submarine search efficiency of the aircraft may decrease.

The argument is made in this Chinese analysis that unmanned aircraft can be of considerable assistance in such circumstances. It is said that UAVs frequently fly for more than forty hours but are capable of flights that last over days or even weeks. While generally not fast moving, they are still considerably faster than surface ships that are also employed for the ASW mission. It is projected, moreover, that they may sometimes be able to fly over air defenses. But the biggest selling point for UAVs in this role is that they are so much cheaper than both submarine-hunting large MPAs, and quite obviously also their quarry, the submarines. In other words, such economical approaches to the undersea rivalry in the Western Pacific could put Beijing on the right end of a “cost-imposition” strategy. This Chinese analysis, moreover, implies that unmanned aircraft need not accomplish all aspects of the ASW mission. They could play the reasonably simple role of information relay platforms. They could also help to reduce the complexity of the daunting tasks that currently confront MPA crews. Of course, they could also take greater risks by entering “situations of contested airspace [敌空中威胁情况].” Lower costs, naturally enough, also mean that many airframes, coordinating together, could be deployed for any given search operation. Mathematical modeling of ASW operations in this piece yields the conclusion that UAVs do significantly increase the efficiency of submarine hunting.

A second article, from a late 2018 edition of Chinese Journal of Ship Research [中国舰船研究], endeavors to explore the “search/attack submarine integration [搜攻潜一体化]” functions of a fixed-wing UAV for ASW by studying the issue of optimizing payloads. This author, from the Jiangsu Automation Research Institute, asserts that “all navies are reforming ASW models.” He contends that there is an “urgent need for greater range, larger search areas, longer search periods, as well as cheaper methods of sensing, detection, tracking, and prosecuting submarines.” The paper discusses some foreign designs, including the U.S military’s MQ-9 UAV.

Owing mostly to the cost issue, this analysis also holds that UAVs for ASW have “obvious advantages” over manned aircraft. Interestingly, this Chinese study asserts that “weaponization is the basic trend for fixed-wing unmanned ASW aircraft [武器化是固定翼反潜无人机的基本特点].” But the most remarkable part of this particular discussion is the recognition that these UAVs might well operate from Chinese aircraft carriers. That is a rather bold call given that China has yet to demonstrate success in operating UAVs from aircraft carriers, but it does neatly illustrate Beijing’s priority on protecting its new capital ships, as noted in this paper’s introduction. Reviewing sample flight profiles, this analysis sees an ASW UAV that is capable of a patrol radius of six hundred kilometers for its land-based variant and perhaps three hundred kilometers for its carrier-based variant.

The above articles offer a glimpse of yet more coming attractions from the Chinese Navy. Indeed, the naval air arm of the PLA Navy is now starting to make rapid progress in line with its subsurface and surface forces. This news is quite disturbing as it fits a developing pattern of Beijing employing its new prowess in artificial intelligence to solve difficult battlefield dilemmas. What’s still more troubling is that if Chinese missiles and aircraft succeed in destroying U.S. and allied airbases in the Western Pacific during the initial phase of any military contingency, whether over Taiwan or the South China Sea, that might well leave myriad Chinese drone aircraft the freedom to roam and aggressively stalk previously nearly invulnerable American submarines.

Lyle J. Goldstein is Research Professor in the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI) at the United States Naval War College in Newport, RI. In addition to Chinese, he also speaks Russian and he is also an affiliate of the new Russia Maritime Studies Institute (RMSI) at Naval War College. You can reach him at goldstel@usnwc.edu. The opinions in his columns are entirely his own and do not reflect the official assessments of the U.S. Navy or any other agency of the U.S. government.

Source: Naional Interest “American Submarines Are in the Crosshairs of China”


China’s New ‘Ultraquiet’ Submarines Could End America’s Navy Dominance


The PLA Navy may be poised to overcome a technological and tactical defect that has plagued it since its founding.

by James Holmes July 14, 2020

Here’s What You Need To Remember: American submariners long lampooned Soviet and Chinese nuclear boats for being noisy and easy to detect. PLA Navy boats remained backward long after the Cold War. Ultraquiet propulsion, though, would put an end to unquestioned U.S. acoustic supremacy, opening up new operational and strategic vistas before the PLA Navy while ushering in a deadlier phase of U.S.-China strategic competition.

Word has it that China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) has staged a breakthrough in submarine propulsion. At any rate, that’s the word from marine engineer Rear Admiral Ma Weiming, a specialist in electromagnetic systems. Admiral Ma recently reported on state-run CCTV that shipwrights are installing shaftless rim-driven pumpjets in China’s “next-generation nuclear submarines,” meaning attack or ballistic-missile boats. (Click here for a layman’s description of pumpjet technology.) Ma crowed that Chinese engineers are “now way ahead of the United States, which has also been developing similar technology.”

If Admiral Ma is playing it straight—rather than hyping promising but yet-to-be-proven gadgetry—then the PLA Navy is poised to overcome a technological and tactical defect that has plagued it since its founding. American submariners long lampooned Soviet and Chinese nuclear boats for being noisy and easy to detect. PLA Navy boats remained backward long after the Cold War. Ultraquiet propulsion, though, would put an end to unquestioned U.S. acoustic supremacy, opening up new operational and strategic vistas before the PLA Navy while ushering in a deadlier phase of U.S.-China strategic competition.

The rim-driven pumpjet is an electrically driven “propulsor” that simplifies and thus quiets an engineering plant. Older technology typically uses gears to connect the elements of a drive train. Steam spins the innards of high-speed turbines. Turbines spin far too fast for any main propulsion shaft or propeller, however, so ships outfitted with traditional engineering plants have “main reduction gears” that step down the speed of rotation drastically, to speeds useful for the shaft that turns the screw and impels the hull through the water. Gears are noisemakers. Pumpjet technology dispenses with them, simplifying and silencing plant operations.

The design also reduces cavitation—bubbles churned up when a propeller turns rapidly underwater, leaving low-pressure zones behind the blades where water can boil. Cavitation emits noise that enemy sonar operators may hear. Thus it can alert hostile anti-submarine-warfare (ASW) forces, helping them find, track and target the emitter. Hence the allure of novel technology that suppresses cavitation.

Now, there are ample grounds for skepticism toward Admiral Ma’s claims. New technology remains a hypothesis until tested out in real-world operations. But at the same time it’s doubtful Ma was simply showboating for Chinese TV viewers. Rising competitors have caught up with established navies before, or even leapfrogged them in certain areas. The Imperial Japanese Navy defied expectations, devising the Long Lance torpedo that it deployed to devastating effect at Pearl Harbor. The Soviet Navy concocted antiship missiles and torpedoes that give the U.S. Navy fits to this day. Thus it behooves us to ask what if: what if China pulls off a technological leap of similar magnitude?

Set aside the question of whose submarines are quieter than whose. Boastfulness—the urge to be the biggest, best and most of everything, and to have others acknowledge it—forms a strand in China’s cultural DNA. Ma is indulging in it. But no one is going to hold a contest to measure noise given off by U.S. Navy and PLA Navy boats, and award victory to the quietest fleet. Combat is the true arbiter of military effectiveness—and undersea combat hinges on whether “hiders” or “finders” prevail. It pits a sub’s capacity for silent running against the acuity of ASW sensors and operators trying to ferret it out.

In other words, if American hiders remain quiet enough to evade Chinese finders, they hold the advantage of stealth. If acoustics has befriended the PLA Navy, then American finders have a problem. And if both submarine services can elude ASW hunters, then both they and surface fleets are in dire peril. “Peer” submarines could engage one another at close proximity in the deep, or strike against surface vessels without warning. Indeed, the surface of embattled oceans could verge on no-go territory. That prospect makes this thought experiment about the future of subsurface warfare worthwhile.

Suppose rim-driven pumpjet propulsors do pan out for China’s navy. How might commanders use newly elusive boats? First of all, they might afford nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs, known to U.S. submariners as “boomers”) precedence when installing newfangled propulsion hardware. The PLA Navy already operates a sizable fleet of diesel-electric attack subs that satisfices for antiaccess/area-denial purposes. They can make shift until silent-running nuclear-powered attack subs (SSNs) join the fleet. SSNs can wait. By contrast, the navy stands at the brink of fielding its first effective SSBNs.

Fabricating a new capability would seem to take precedence over improving an old but adequate one—especially if the nation’s nuclear deterrent depends on the new capability. If this logic prevails, how will the PLA Navy employ working boomers? To all appearances, it envisions employing the South China Sea as an offshore “bastion” for SSBNs, much as the Soviet Navy of yesteryear made semienclosed waters into protected bastions for its missile boats. Undersea deterrence, then, probably numbers among the motives impelling the PLA to transform rocks and atolls into fortified outposts, acquaint itself with underwater hydrography, and so forth. China’s Type 094 SSBNs or their pumpjet-equipped descendants could slip out of the sub base on Hainan Island, descend into South China Sea waters, lose themselves in the depths and dare rival navies to come into China’s “near seas”—expanses that fall under the shadow of land-based PLA missiles and aircraft—to hunt them.

Or if Chinese Communist Party leaders feel comfortable granting SSBN skippers the liberty to venture outside the near seas (though that’s a lot of atomic firepower to entrust to a naval officer whose loyalties might prove suspect), the Luzon Strait affords a convenient entryway to the western Pacific. Within the strait lies the Bashi Channel, a deep underwater thoroughfare into the Pacific. The weather between Luzon and the southern tip of Taiwan often works against airborne ASW; subs transiting the channel can conceal their whereabouts by diving beneath thermal layers that play tricks with sound. An ultraquiet SSBN, in short, could thrive in South China Sea patrol grounds—and beyond.

Second, PLA Navy commanders doubtless salivate at the prospect of ultraquiet attack boats. They could merge new SSNs—presumably the Type 095s under development—into their antiaccess defenses against the U.S. Pacific Fleet. They could package new with old units inventively. For example, they could station a picket line of diesel boats and older Type 093 SSNs along likely axes of approach from Hawaii or U.S. West Coast seaports. Speedy but quiet Type 095s could act as “skirmishers,” operating forward of the pickets. SSNs could snipe at the Pacific Fleet’s flanks during its westward voyage while scouting for the rest of the fleet, and for shore-based PLA defenders. They could mount piecemeal attacks against the American fleet, or even try to herd it toward the picket line for additional punishment.

PLA commanders thus could use ultramodern platforms to wring new value out of legacy platforms. Such an approach would harness the latest technology while staying true to China’s Maoist tradition of “active defense.” Active defense—which, as Chinese military folk remind us, remains the “essence” of Chinese military strategy decades after Mao Zedong’s demise—envisions luring foes deep into Chinese-held territory. PLA defenders stage tactical actions to weary enemies as they come. They fall on isolated units and try to smash them. Successive small-scale attacks enfeeble enemy forces, setting the stage for decisive battle on Chinese ground.

Think about the options that may become available to Chinese skippers as propulsor technology matures. Diesel boats could act as western Pacific pickets, or congregate in wolfpacks to concentrate firepower from multiple axes. Relatively noisy Type 093s could act as decoys, distracting American ASW hunters while Type 095s spring ambushes at opportune moments. And on and on. Commanders could combine and recombine forces in limitless ways—in keeping with China’s way of war.

Call it undersea active defense.

Third, the advent of quiet-running SSNs would let the PLA Navy play submarine-on-submarine games reminiscent of those once played by U.S. and Soviet boats. To date, lacking a peer to U.S. Navy Los Angeles– or Virginia-class SSNs, the PLA Navy has employed its submarine fleet mainly as an antisurface force. It waits offshore for hostile forces to approach, then does its best to pummel them with missiles or torpedoes. American submariners, by contrast, will tell you the best ASW weapon is another submarine. They view hunting subs as their chief contribution to high-seas warfare. Chinese submariners might follow suit if their boats ran quiet enough, and boasted sensors sensitive enough, to make sub-on-sub ASW an option. Or they might incorporate ASW into their operational portfolio while retaining the emphasis on antiship missions.

Either way, PLA submarine operations would take on an intensely offensive hue. No longer would the sub force be a mostly static force lofting antiship missiles toward adversary surface task forces. It would seek out adversary subs as well—and, if successful, project China’s antiaccess defenses into the depths in a serious way for the first time. No longer could the United States’ silent service prowl Asian waters with impunity. Indeed, if both fleets were comparable in stealth, cat-and-mouse games might predominate. This would be a dangerous business. Reaction times would be minimal if boats could only detect and track one another at intimate range. Proximity would magnify the prospect of collisions, accidents of other types, or even inadvertent exchanges of fire. Both navies and their political masters must think ahead about how to manage close-quarters encounters in the deep.

And fourth, the debut of pumpjet-equipped SSNs would empower Beijing to mount a standing presence in faraway recesses of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean for the first time. Diesel boats have ventured into the “far seas” in recent years, but they must put into port at regular intervals to refuel. This exposes them to detection. SSNs can remain at sea, and undersea, as long as their food and stores hold out. The crew—not the engineering plant—thus constitutes the limiting factor on a nuclear-powered boat’s at-sea endurance. The Indian Navy has taken notice of PLA Navy forays into India’s home region, and grasps the implications of high-tech Chinese SSNs cruising the Indian Ocean. Indeed, some Indian mariners deem such a presence a red line for competition between the two navies.

It can be no accident, then, that there’s an antisubmarine flair to this summer’s Malabar exercises among the Indian Navy, U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. All three navies dispatched aircraft carriers for maneuvers for the first time. The Japanese flattop JS Izumo is a euphemistically dubbed “helicopter destroyer” optimized for hunting submarines. What hostile subs may lurk in the Bay of Bengal, where the exercises are underway, apart from China’s? Hider-finder competition, it seems, has come to the Indian Ocean.

Does new engineering technology herald an age of Chinese maritime supremacy? Of course not. Carl von Clausewitz portrays martial strife as constant struggle between “wrestlers” striving to “throw” each other for strategic gain. That goes for acoustic one-upmanship as well. One contender innovates; the other resolves to outdo it. It appears, consequently, that more equal undersea competition lies in store. To prepare for it, U.S. Navy submariners must learn to think of PLA Navy subs not as prey to be devoured by American predators but as worthy foes, capable of some sub hunting of their own. The silent service must adjust to the new, old reality of peer competition beneath the waves.

The game’s afoot.

James Holmes is professor of strategy at the Naval War College and coauthor of Red Star over the Pacific (second edition forthcoming 2018). The views voiced here are his alone.

This first appeared in 2017.

Source: National Interest “China’s New ‘Ultraquiet’ Submarines Could End America’s Navy Dominance”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Meet China’s Type 055: Beijing’s Very Own Zumwalt Stealth Destroyer?


Image: Reuters.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy is preparing to deploy a new, stealthy, heavily armed high-tech class of Type 055 destroyer intended to offer sea attack, air defenses and wartime support to carriers to carriers and amphibs at war on the open ocean.

by Kris Osborn July 10, 2020

Here’s What You Need To Remember: Commissioned earlier this year in January, the Nanchang has now completed its first replenishment exercises at sea. Interestingly, the ship represents China’s effort to engineer a stealthy destroyer by virtue of its blended body-bow, smooth exterior, absence of large protruding deck masts and few external deck-mounted weapons. In some respects, the ship does appear to resemble some elements of the U.S. Navy’s stealthy USS Zumwalt destroyer.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy is preparing to deploy a new, stealthy, heavily armed high-tech class of Type 055 destroyer intended to offer sea attack, air defenses and wartime support to carriers to carriers and amphibs at war on the open ocean.

A story from China’s People’s Online Daily says the Nanchang, a first-in-class new generation of destroyers can fire anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, anti-submarine missiles and even land-attack missiles. China apparently plans to deploy the new destroyer in support of two of its operational aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and Shandong, the article says.

Commissioned earlier this year in January, the Nanchang has now completed its first replenishment exercises at sea. Interestingly, the ship represents China’s effort to engineer a stealthy destroyer by virtue of its blended body-bow, smooth exterior, absence of large protruding deck masts and few external deck-mounted weapons. In some respects, the ship does appear to resemble some elements of the U.S. Navy’s stealthy USS Zumwalt destroyer. The Nanchang has very similar-looking deck-mounted guns and a smooth, flat, roundly curved deckhouse. Like the USS Zumwalt, there is a decidedly linear, inwardly-angled hull-deckhouse connection. It has narrow command post windows and appears to mirror the hull deckhouse configuration of the USS Zumwalt to some extent with radar panels blended into sides of the ship. Also, the central placement of the deckhouse, blended with a back end area, might represent a deliberate effort to align the ship’s center of gravity and therefore decrease the possibility of capsizing in rough seas.

Some of the ship’s stealth features were pointed out in a 2018 story in The Diplomat which describes the ship as having a “flared hull with distinctly stealthy features including an enclosed bow,” and hidden mooring points and anchor chains. This deck structure indeed does reveal an apparent attempt to engineer a ship with a lower radar signature, as there are no externally mounted, angular or protruding weapons systems hanging from the sides of the ship. There are few separated large, pointy antenna masts apart from one aligned straight up on top of the deckhouse and a small cluster on the back end.

However, unlike the USS Zumwalt which aligns VLS (Vertical Launch Systems) along the periphery of the ship deck, the Diplomat describes the Type 055 destroyers as having a “64 cell block of VLS.” More concentrated VLS might seem to leave a ship more vulnerable to catastrophic attack should an incoming weapon hit the centralized group of VLS. Having VLS on the periphery, however, would enable many VLS to sustain functionality in the event that some were disabled or destroyed by enemy attacks. Also, closely stacked VLS would emit a larger heat signature should multiple missiles be launched concurrently.

Finally, the back of the Nanchang looks a little “busier” than the USS Zumwalt; there does not appear to be a large, flat rectangular helo landing area on the Nanching but rather a series of small antennas and mounted weapons and sensor systems on the back end. These, it would seem, appear less stealthy than a USS Zumwalt but bring an added advantage of close-in or attached firepower. For example, the Diplomat article points out an “eleven barrel H/PJ-11 30mm Cose-in-Weapons System. The USS Zumwalt does not appear to have a deck-mounted Close-In-Weapons System as an Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer does. CWIS can offer a critical last-layer attack-defense weapon able to use a phalanx area gun to knock out approaching close-in drones or small boat attacks—by blanketing areas with thousands of small projectiles per minute.

In addition, aggregated antennas in the back might localize the ship’s electromagnetic signature to some extent, enabling directional emissions and a single, concentrated signal area. This would preclude a need to emit multiple signals from different locations, potentially spreading out an electronic footprint. The deck-mounted guns on the Nanchang are less cylindrical and elongated as they are on the USS Zumwalt. In summary, it seems one could accurately characterize the appearance of the Nanching as a bit of a hybrid blending between a stealthy USS Zumwalt and an armed Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

The Nanchang could also help support the Chinese expeditionary mission scope such as its increased amphibious assault capabilities and expansionist strategies. As far back as 2011, the Chinese Navy has been on the radar for its rapid maritime build-up, according to an essay in National Defense University Press which cites Chinese Frigate and Amphib construction. The 2011 paper, called “The Chinese Navy: Expanding Capabilities, Evolving Roles,” says the Chinese had at that point built 12 new Frigates, a new generation of fast-attack craft and a Type 071 20-ton Amphibious Landing Platform Dock warship. The LPD, as described by the essay, carries two helicopters, two air-cushioned landing craft, and the ability to carry up to eight hundred troops. These Chinese naval assets offer a series of mission scenarios through which the PLA Navy could use its new Nanching destroyer to fortify expansionist aims.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. This article appeared earlier this year.

Source: National Interest “Meet China’s Type 055: Beijing’s Very Own Zumwalt Stealth Destroyer?”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Meet China’s Type 055: Beijing’s Very Own Zumwalt Stealth Destroyer?


Image: Reuters.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy is preparing to deploy a new, stealthy, heavily armed high-tech class of Type 055 destroyer intended to offer sea attack, air defenses and wartime support to carriers to carriers and amphibs at war on the open ocean.

by Kris Osborn July 10, 2020

Here’s What You Need To Remember: Commissioned earlier this year in January, the Nanchang has now completed its first replenishment exercises at sea. Interestingly, the ship represents China’s effort to engineer a stealthy destroyer by virtue of its blended body-bow, smooth exterior, absence of large protruding deck masts and few external deck-mounted weapons. In some respects, the ship does appear to resemble some elements of the U.S. Navy’s stealthy USS Zumwalt destroyer.

Doctor Warns: Don’t Use Needles, Fill In Wrinkles With This Instead

South Beach Skin Lab

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy is preparing to deploy a new, stealthy, heavily armed high-tech class of Type 055 destroyer intended to offer sea attack, air defenses and wartime support to carriers to carriers and amphibs at war on the open ocean.

A story from China’s People’s Online Daily says the Nanchang, a first-in-class new generation of destroyers can fire anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, anti-submarine missiles and even land-attack missiles. China apparently plans to deploy the new destroyer in support of two of its operational aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and Shandong, the article says.

Commissioned earlier this year in January, the Nanchang has now completed its first replenishment exercises at sea. Interestingly, the ship represents China’s effort to engineer a stealthy destroyer by virtue of its blended body-bow, smooth exterior, absence of large protruding deck masts and few external deck-mounted weapons. In some respects, the ship does appear to resemble some elements of the U.S. Navy’s stealthy USS Zumwalt destroyer. The Nanchang has very similar-looking deck-mounted guns and a smooth, flat, roundly curved deckhouse. Like the USS Zumwalt, there is a decidedly linear, inwardly-angled hull-deckhouse connection. It has narrow command post windows and appears to mirror the hull deckhouse configuration of the USS Zumwalt to some extent with radar panels blended into sides of the ship. Also, the central placement of the deckhouse, blended with a back end area, might represent a deliberate effort to align the ship’s center of gravity and therefore decrease the possibility of capsizing in rough seas.

Some of the ship’s stealth features were pointed out in a 2018 story in The Diplomat which describes the ship as having a “flared hull with distinctly stealthy features including an enclosed bow,” and hidden mooring points and anchor chains. This deck structure indeed does reveal an apparent attempt to engineer a ship with a lower radar signature, as there are no externally mounted, angular or protruding weapons systems hanging from the sides of the ship. There are few separated large, pointy antenna masts apart from one aligned straight up on top of the deckhouse and a small cluster on the back end.

T

However, unlike the USS Zumwalt which aligns VLS (Vertical Launch Systems) along the periphery of the ship deck, the Diplomat describes the Type 055 destroyers as having a “64 cell block of VLS.” More concentrated VLS might seem to leave a ship more vulnerable to catastrophic attack should an incoming weapon hit the centralized group of VLS. Having VLS on the periphery, however, would enable many VLS to sustain functionality in the event that some were disabled or destroyed by enemy attacks. Also, closely stacked VLS would emit a larger heat signature should multiple missiles be launched concurrently.

Finally, the back of the Nanchang looks a little “busier” than the USS Zumwalt; there does not appear to be a large, flat rectangular helo landing area on the Nanching but rather a series of small antennas and mounted weapons and sensor systems on the back end. These, it would seem, appear less stealthy than a USS Zumwalt but bring an added advantage of close-in or attached firepower. For example, the Diplomat article points out an “eleven barrel H/PJ-11 30mm Cose-in-Weapons System. The USS Zumwalt does not appear to have a deck-mounted Close-In-Weapons System as an Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer does. CWIS can offer a critical last-layer attack-defense weapon able to use a phalanx area gun to knock out approaching close-in drones or small boat attacks—by blanketing areas with thousands of small projectiles per minute.

In addition, aggregated antennas in the back might localize the ship’s electromagnetic signature to some extent, enabling directional emissions and a single, concentrated signal area. This would preclude a need to emit multiple signals from different locations, potentially spreading out an electronic footprint. The deck-mounted guns on the Nanchang are less cylindrical and elongated as they are on the USS Zumwalt. In summary, it seems one could accurately characterize the appearance of the Nanching as a bit of a hybrid blending between a stealthy USS Zumwalt and an armed Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

The Nanchang could also help support the Chinese expeditionary mission scope such as its increased amphibious assault capabilities and expansionist strategies. As far back as 2011, the Chinese Navy has been on the radar for its rapid maritime build-up, according to an essay in National Defense University Press which cites Chinese Frigate and Amphib construction. The 2011 paper, called “The Chinese Navy: Expanding Capabilities, Evolving Roles,” says the Chinese had at that point built 12 new Frigates, a new generation of fast-attack craft and a Type 071 20-ton Amphibious Landing Platform Dock warship. The LPD, as described by the essay, carries two helicopters, two air-cushioned landing craft, and the ability to carry up to eight hundred troops. These Chinese naval assets offer a series of mission scenarios through which the PLA Navy could use its new Nanching destroyer to fortify expansionist aims.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. This article appeared earlier this year.

Source: National Interest “Meet China’s Type 055: Beijing’s Very Own Zumwalt Stealth Destroyer?”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


No More Stealth: China’s Quantum Radar Could Reveal All Submarines


Quantum technology could also serve as advanced navigational sensor—one that could circumvent submarine dependence on orbiting satellites to stay on course

by Sebastien Roblin July 9, 2020

Here’s What You Need To Remember: China has also famously made breakthroughs in using quantum entanglement for encrypted communications by teleporting molecules over long distances. This could conceivably have application to communications with submerged submarines, a technically challenging task—with implications particularly for transmission of orders from a national command authority to launch nuclear weapons.

According to some evaluations, today’s cutting-edge submarines like the Virginia- and Sea Wolf-class attack submarines have been evaluated to run only five decibels louder than average oceanic background noises. Even less-expensive Swedish air independent propulsion submarines have successfully passed undetected to sink U.S. carriers during exercises.

Yet some naval analysts are decidedly bearish on the prospects of submarine stealth in the twenty-first century, looking ahead to highly sensitive low-frequency sonars, advanced satellite-based optical sensors that may bypass acoustic-stealth entirely, and powerful computer processors that can churn through vast quantities of data to discriminate faint contacts from background noise. China is even developing a satellite-based laser surveillance system aimed at detecting vessels submerged as deep as five hundred meters.

Recently, the field of quantum mechanics has increasingly shown its potential to disrupt established paradigms in multiple domains of warfare—particularly due to the concept of quantum entanglement, the uncanny phenomenon by which bonded particles continue to uncannily reflect each other’s behavior even across long distances.

Though still facing by range coherence limitations, quantum sensors and communicators could potentially bypass many of the limitations and vulnerabilities of traditional radio-frequency sensors, remaining effective despite jamming or stealthy-aircraft profiles. As detailed in this article, China appears to have taken an early lead in ‘quantum radar’, though how soon the technology can be developed into an operationally viable system remains to be seen.

Today, acoustic detection remains the primary methods to detect and track submarines. Besides active and passive sonars mounted on ships and submarines, they are also fixed in underwater surveillance systems, dropped in buoys by maritime patrol planes like the P-8 Poseidon or Japanese P-1, and hoisted down into the water by anti-submarine helicopters like the MH-60R Seahawk.

However, anti-submarine warriors can draw upon an array of supporting technologies beyond sonar that have historically played a major role.

During World War II, aircraft-borne surface-search radars led to the doom of many German U-Boats, allowing patrol planes to detect and swoop down upon diesel-powered submarines while they were surfaced at night to recharge their batteries. Though snorkels gave submarines a way to sip air without detection, they too are susceptible to detection by modern synthetic-aperture radars. However, though many diesel-electric submarines remain in service, a large share of modern submarines use air-independent propulsion or nuclear-power allowing them to cruise weeks or months respectively before surfacing.

Sub-hunter can also employ “sniffers” that can ‘smell’ the chemicals in the submarine’s diesel exhaust

The SQUID Magnetometer

Another famous submarine-hunting ploy is to use Magnetic Anomaly Detectors triggered by the submarine’s metallic hull. The threat posed by MADs has led navies to de-gauss submarine hulls to minimize magnetic profiles. Germany has specially developed Type 212 and 214 submarines with non-metallic hulls.

However, MADs have very short range, and the P-8 and MH-60R omit a MAD entirely.

Enter, therefore, the SQUID, or Superconducting Quantum Interference Device. Though it might sound like Star Trek technobabble, SQUIDs leverages quantum technology to offer an ultra-sensitive magnetometer. Too sensitive, in fact, as SQUIDs have picked up background noise from stuff as distant as solar flares.

But on June 21, 2017, a Chinese periodical announced that Professor XIamong Xie of the Shanghai Institute of Microsystems and Information Technology had developed cryogenic liquid-nitrogen-cooled SQUID which reduced the noise-problem—and in field-tests, had proven capable of detecting ferrous objects deep underground even when mounted on a helicopter.

After a South China Morning Post article speculated on whether it amounted “to the world’s most powerful submarine detector?” the original article was taken down.

Dave Hambling noted in the New Scientist that Xiamong’s new sensor used an array of SQUIDs to help cancel out background noise.

Researchers estimate that a SQUID magnetometer of this type could detect a sub ..from 6 kilometres away, and [Imperial College researcher David] Caplin says that with better noise suppression the range could be much greater.”

A typical MAD, by contrast, is only effective to a few hundred meters, meaning the new SQUID could potentially cover thousands of times more square meters.

In April 14 2019, an article by Defense Procurement International revealed Australia too was researching quantum magnetometer technology for submarine detection—this time apparently intended for a fixed submarine surveillance system.

Professor Andre Luiten of the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing is quoted thusly: “These magnetometers can detect very small magnetic fields. The goal of this project is to build sensors that go on the seabed which detect the presence of submarines through their properties. You’d essentially set up a trip wire around assets that are of importance to Australia.”

Quantum Compass?

Quantum technology could also serve as advanced navigational sensor—one that could circumvent submarine dependence on orbiting satellites to stay on course

The Jamestown Foundation’s Elsa Kania and Stephen Armitage note that:

[Q]uantum navigation could allow for a “new generation of inertial navigation,” enabling high-precision navigation without GPS . . . This so-called “quantum compass” would be particularly useful for submarines and other maritime platforms for which it could enable the pinpointing of their position with high levels of accuracy. Quantum navigation could thus potentially liberate Chinese operational platforms from dependence on space-based positioning systems, which can be easily jammed.”

Kania also notes that Quantum navigation also has implicit offensive potential: these technologies might also be applied to improve missile guidance and enhance precision strike capabilities.

However, satellites, too, could use quantum sensors to influence submarine warfare. Satellites using quantum gravimeters, which could improve sensitivity of sensors designed to detect and measure gravity fields, could potentially detect submarines, or more likely, map out seafloors with new levels of precision.

China has also famously made breakthroughs in using quantum entanglement for encrypted communications by teleporting molecules over long distances. This could conceivably have application to communications with submerged submarines, a technically challenging task—with implications particularly for transmission of orders from a national command authority to launch nuclear weapons.

Time will tell which, if any, of these technologies can be developed into practical operational systems. However, it’s clear that scientists in China and Australia are betting that developments in the field of quantum physics will play their part in changing the rules of undersea warfare in the twenty-first century.

Sébastien Roblin holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring. This article first appeared last year.

Source: National Interest “No More Stealth: China’s Quantum Radar Could Reveal All Submarines”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


The U.S. Navy Doesn’t Operate the Most ‘Stealth’ Submarines (Think Sweden)


Image: Reuters

The Blekinge-class is even resistant to mines and depth charges for greatly improved survivability.

by Caleb Larson June 30, 2020

Here’s What You Need To Remember: Thanks to the high level of thought given to the class’ design, the Blekinge-class could be one of the quietest submarine class ever built once they’re finished.

Saab’s Gotland-class recently enjoyed a refit, and is very quiet—the U.S. Navy even leased the first of the class, the HMS Gotland for two years in order to evaluate the sub’s capabilities and to improve their own anti-submarine techniques against a peer adversary. The Gotland-class is very stealthy, but pales in comparison to Sweden’s upcoming Blekinge-class, represented by two hulls, the HMS Blekinge and HMS Skåne.

Ghost

Saab’s Ghost stealth technology, which stands for Genuine HOlistic STealth, is Saab’s quietest technology ever—and even quieter than their upgraded Gotland-class submarine. This incredibly low acoustic signature is achieved through a variety of means. The Blekinge-class makes use of rubberized mounts and baffles inside the submarine to reduce noise cause by on-board machinery or crew. Additionally, frames within the sub are filled with “acoustic damping plates” that absorb ambient sound from within the submarine.

Additionally, Saab claims that all interior surfaces are optimized to minimize noise, including “flexible hoses and compensators; and specifying maximum flow speed in air ducts, minimum bending radius on cables and pipes, and the design of out-board holes and cavities.”

The submarine’s exterior is also optimized for reduced noise. Saab says that the Blekinge-class uses a new hull shape and fin design that reduces hydrodynamic noise caused by water flowing along the hull surface and fins. Amazingly, the sub’s radar cross-section has also been taken into consideration and reduced through a careful mast design.

Air-Independent Power

In addition to above mentioned silencing features, perhaps the most significant is the Blekinge-class’ air-independent power technology. While the Blekinge-class is non-nuclear, it leverages a Stirling engine to remain submerged for longer than would otherwise be possible with conventional diesel generators.

Though complex, the Saab explains how the Stirling engine works, “in a Stirling engine, the necessary heat is produced in a separate combustion chamber and transferred to the engine’s working gas, operating in a completely closed system. The working gas forces the pistons in the engine to move, thus producing mechanical energy.” The Stirling engine is both more efficient, and has a very low acoustic and infrared signature.

It burns a mixture of liquified oxygen and diesel—the same diesel that onboard diesel generators use. These generators are used just for “long distance transit at medium speed in either a surfaced or snorting condition.”

Shocking

Saab says the Blekinge-class is resistant to mines and depth charges for greatly improved survivability. Full-scale shock tests were conducted using depth charges just feet away from the hull—with a full crew aboard—to ensure both onboard electronics and the hull’s resistance to shocks.

Postscript

Thanks to the high level of thought given to the class’ design, the Blekinge-class could be one of the quietest submarine class ever built once they’re finished.

Caleb Larson holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy. He lives in Berlin and writes on U.S. and Russian foreign and defense policy, German politics, and culture.

This article originally appeared May 2020 and is being republished due to reader interest.

Source: National Interest “The U.S. Navy Doesn’t Operate the Most ‘Stealth’ Submarines (Think Sweden)”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


The Xian H-20: China’s Latest Next-Generation Stealth Bomber Is Coming


The Xian H-20, which is expected to double the country’s strike range, could make its public debut at this year’s Zhuhai Airshow.

by Peter Suciu

Here’s What You Need To Remember: If the U.S. and its allies deploy more of the next-generation fighter in the region, China may feel compelled to respond by speeding up its Xian H-20 program in the latest – and increasingly expensive and increasingly dangerous – tit-for-tat in the region.

While the goal of a stealth bomber is not to be seen – at least on radar – the Chinese military is reportedly weighing how to officially introduce the still-to-be-delivered next-generation warplane. Military experts, who have anticipated the arrival of the long-range aircraft for a while, may have to extend their wait at least until November.

The Xian H-20, which is expected to double the country’s strike range, could make its public debut at this year’s Zhuhai Airshow. But that is only providing the coronavirus pandemic is under control and contained. Should it make a return this autumn, the Xian H-20 could become akin to “Waiting for Godot” where its promised arrival is continually delayed.

“The Zhuhai Airshow is expected to become a platform to promote China’s image and its success in pandemic control – telling the outside world that the contagion did not have any big impacts on Chinese defence industry enterprises:” an unnamed source told the South China Morning Post this week.

The aircraft had been previously teased about in viral marketing campaigns that wouldn’t seem out of place for a Hollywood blockbuster, and Chinese media had teased that the aircraft would be part of a parade to celebrate the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s seventieth anniversary in 2019.

There have also been concerns that if the bomber were to make an appearance at this year’s airshow that it could heighten tensions by directly threatening countries that are within its strike range, notably Japan, South Korea and even Australia, including U.S. bases in those countries as well as in the U.S. territory of Guam.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has estimated that the bomber has a cruising distance of more than 5,300 miles and could fly at subsonic speeds, while carrying four powerful hypersonic stealth cruise missiles.

This has provided Beijing with what has been described as a “nuclear triad” of ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched missiles and air-launched weapons. Such a combination of arms has been seen to provide the United States with 24/7 deterrence to prevent catastrophic actions from adversaries, but it could certainly change the power dynamic among China’s regional rivals.

Last year in an annual report to Congress, the DoD warned that China could be inching closer to such a nuclear triad.

“The Beijing leadership is still carefully considering whether its commission will affect regional balance, especially as regional tensions have been escalating over the Covid-19 pandemic,” another unnamed source told the South China Morning Post. “Like intercontinental ballistic missiles, all strategic bombers can be used for delivering nuclear weapons.”

However, as the report to Congress also noted, a true nuclear triad is about more than just possessing the military platforms and weapons.

“To have a true triad involves doctrine, it involves training, a lot of things,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver explained as reported by Business Insider last May. Schriver added that the Chinese military is “heading in that direction, toward having capable delivery systems in those three domains.”

The Xian H-20 certainly provides the third piece of the triad, but the aircraft won’t instantly level the playing field. The speed of the H-20 is reportedly slower than its original design. However, the H-20 could be an answer to the U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. If the U.S. and its allies deploy more of the next-generation fighter in the region, China may feel compelled to respond by speeding up its Xian H-20 program in the latest – and increasingly expensive and increasingly dangerous – tit-for-tat in the region.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

This article first appeared earlier this year and is being republished due to reader interest.

Source: National Interest “The Xian H-20: China’s Latest Next-Generation Stealth Bomber Is Coming”

Note: This is National Interest’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.