Type 093 Shang Class

The Type 093 (or Type 09-III, NATO codename: Shang class) is China’s 2nd-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) introduced in the early 2000s. It represents a significant improvement over the 1st-generation submarines in performance and capability. At least six hulls have already been commissioned into the PLA Navy as of 2015, and the construction programme continues. The improved Type 093B (Shang-III class) SSGN is capable of carrying log-range cruise missiles for anti-ship and land-attack.

Programme

The PLA Navy initiated the development of its next-generation Type 093 nuclear attack submarine in the mid-1980s as a successor to its 1st-generation Type 091 (Han class). However, little progress was made until the mid-1990s, when Russia agreed to transfer its nuclear submarine technology to China in exchange for urgently-needed cash. The St. Petersburg-based Rubin Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering, one of Russia’s primary centres for submarine design, offered consultation to the Type 093’s development, including overall hull design, engine and machinery quieting, combat system, weapon system, and countermeasures outfit.

The existence of the submarine programme was first reported by the Pentagon in 2003. The U.S. Navy intelligence and Pentagon suggested that 2 hulls in the basic variant Type 093 and 4 hulls in the improved Type 093A variant had been constructed by 20171. While the basic variant Type 093 is only comparable to the 1970s U.S. and Russian designs such as the early variant Los Angeles (688) class and the Victor-III class, the improved Type 093A/B is believed to be approaching the later variant Los Angeles class and the Akula class in quietness and overall capability, though they still cannot match the more advanced Seawolf and Virginia class.

Type 093 Shang-I class

Construction of the Type 093 reportedly began in the late 1990s at the Huludao-based CSIC Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. The first-of-class Boat 407 was launched sometime in 2001 to 2002. After a sea trial that lasted for four years, the submarine was finally commissioned by the PLA Navy in 2006. The second hull Boat 408 was launched in late 2003 and commissioned around 2007. The production then stopped and replaced by the follow-up variants.

The basic variant Type 093 (Shang I class) was said to have been partially based on the Russian Victor III class in design, though the two submarines bear no resemblance in appearance. The submarine is estimated to have 6.000 to 7,000 t displacement when dived. It features a water-drop shape hull, with a pair of fin-mounted hydroplanes and four diving planes. Six (three on each side) flank-mounted sonar arrays are clearly visible on the hull of the submarine. There are six 533 mm bow torpedo tubes (4 above, 2 below), capable of carrying the various anti-submarine/surface torpedoes of wire-, acoustic- and wake-homing, as well as the YJ-82 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM).

Type 093A Shang-II class

This is an improved variant with a redesigned sail with a tapered front (similar to that of the Seawolf class and Virginia class) and all windows removed.

Type 093B Shang-III class

The improved Type 093B nuclear-power guided missile submarine (SSGN) was launched n 2012 and commissioned in 2015. This variant features some redesign to the sail, with the tapered front retained but all windows removed. There is a mysterious hump located immediately behind the sail, which is believed to accommodate a missile vertical launch system (VLS). The VLS is said to be used for carrying and launching the YJ-18 ASCM, the Yu-8 rocket-propelled torpedo, and the CJ-10 land-attack cruise missile (LACM).

The YJ-18, a Chinese copy of the Russian 3M-54 Klub (SS-N-27 ‘Sizzler’), is capable of attacking surface and land targets to a maximum range of 650 km. The CJ-10, rumoured to have been developed from the Russian Kh-55 (AS-15 ‘Kent’), employs a combined inertial navigation system (INS), satellite, and terrain contour matching (TERCOM) navigation to a maximum range of 1,500 km. These missiles allow the Type 093B to project power ashore over long distance – a capability not previously possessed by Chinese SSNs.

Design

Weapons

  • 6x 533 mm torpedo tube, carrying 20 torpedoes or 36 mines
    • Active/passive acoustic homing torpedo
    • Wire-homing torpedo
    • Wake-homing torpedo
    • YJ-82 submarine-launched ASCM, active radar-homing, 42 to 80 km range, Mach 0.9 in final approach, 165 kg shaped charge warhead with time-delayed impact proximity fuses
    • YJ-18 submarine-launched ASCM, INS/GNSS guidance with terminal active radar homing, 650 km range, supersonic in final approach
  • Vertical launch system (Type 093B)
    • CJ-10 LACM, INS/GNSS/TERCOM guidance, 1,500 km range

Mission Systems

  • Multi-purpose combat data and command system for submarine control and weapon firing
  • Surface search radar
  • H/SQ2-262 bow-mounted, medium-frequency sonar for active/passive search and attack
  • Low frequency sonar, passive ranging and intercept
  • H/SQG-207 flank-mounted sonar (3 sonar arrays on each side)
  • Towed array sonar for active search and attack
  • Radar warning receiver and direction-finder

Propulsion

  • Nuclear with turbo-electric arrangement
  • 1x Pressurised water reactor (PWR)
  • One shaft, with a 7-blade propeller

Specifications

  • PLA Designation: Type 093, or Type 09-III
  • NATO code name: Shang class
  • Type: Nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN)
  • Designer: CSIC China Ship Design & Research Centre (701 Institute)
  • Builders: CSIC Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Co., Ltd.
  • In commission: 2006
  • Number: 6+
  • Displacement (t): 6,000 to 7,000 (dived)
  • Length (m): N/A
  • Beam (m): N/A
  • Draft (m): N/A
  • Speed (knots): N/A
  • Range (nm): N/A
  • Crew: N/A

References

  1. Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, 2017, page 24. []

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