China is actively developing new guided-missile submarines (SSGNs) to rival the capabilities of the United States and Russia.
In May 2022, satellite images revealed a new or upgraded class of submarine under construction at a shipyard in Huludao, northeast China. The submarine is believed to be equipped with vertical launch tubes for cruise missiles, which would give it the ability to launch long-range strikes against land targets.
The Pentagon’s 2023 China Military Power Report also noted that China is developing SSGNs with “advanced quieting technology,” which would make them more difficult to detect and track.
If China is successful in developing and deploying a fleet of SSGNs, it would give it a significant new strategic capability. SSGNs can be used to launch cruise missiles against enemy targets at standoff range, which would make them less vulnerable to retaliation. This would give China a new way to deter its adversaries and project power around the world.
It is important to note that China’s SSGN program is still in its early stages of development. It is not clear how many SSGNs China plans to build or when they will be operational. However, the fact that China is investing heavily in this capability suggests that it is serious about developing a credible sea-based deterrent.
The development of Chinese SSGNs is a significant development for the Indo-Pacific region. It is a reminder that China is becoming increasingly capable of projecting power and challenging the status quo. The United States and its allies will need to carefully monitor China’s SSGN program and develop strategies to counter it.
Here are some potential implications of China’s SSGN development:
China could use SSGNs to threaten US aircraft carriers and other warships in the Indo-Pacific region.
China could use SSGNs to launch cruise missiles against enemy targets on land, such as military bases and infrastructure.
China could use SSGNs to support its territorial claims in the South China Sea and other disputed areas.
China’s SSGN development could lead to an arms race in the Indo-Pacific region, as other countries seek to counter China’s growing capabilities.
China has not yet deployed any SSGNs, so it is difficult to say with certainty how they will be used. However, the potential implications of China’s SSGN development are significant, and the United States and its allies will need to be prepared to respond accordingly.