After some embarrassing display of submarine incidents, China copy Virginia-class SSN for next-generation submarine

The Type 094 submarine of the PLAN.

Two Chinese research papers that emerged in early April through social media provide further evidence of significant technological developments that may be incorporated in the design of the next generation of nuclear submarines for China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

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The first paper relates to the “optimization of submarine vertical missile launchers” and the second to the “analysis of radiated noise of a no-shaft pumpjet”. If these papers reflect technology to be incorporated into the third generation of Chinese nuclear-powered submarines it would indicate a much greater advance than was achieved in progressing from the first-generation submarines to the second, namely the Type 093 (Shang)-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) and the Type 094 (Jin)-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile-carrying submarines (SSBNs).


The PLAN’s next generation of nuclear-powered submarines is likely to incorporate significant technological advances over the systems used by the Type 093-class SSNs, one of which is seen here.

The PLAN’s concept of operations for nuclear and conventionally powered attack submarines appears to prioritise anti-surface ship warfare (ASuW) over anti-submarine warfare (ASW), so there is widespread anticipation that the next-generation Type 095 SSN will be fitted with vertical launch tubes for anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) and possibly also land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs).

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One of the papers that recently emerged had been published in the Ship Science and Technology Journal in April 2017 but other research papers relating to submarine vertical launch systems date back to at least 2005, reflecting that this has been an active area of research for a considerable time.

The capabilities delivered by the US Navy’s Virginia-class SSNs, initially configured with 12 individual vertical launch tubes and latterly with two Virginia Payload Tubes capable of supporting the same number of missiles, will have been studied and modelled extensively at the various Chinese naval research institutes and may influence the Type 095 design.

The pumpjet referred to in the second paper, published in the Journal of Ship Mechanics in November 2018, is an alternative to a conventional propeller, consisting of a multi-vaned rotor and a stator within a duct, similar in concept to a single-stage turbine.

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