Noisy Nuclear Submarines of China, India, Russia Take to Sea

More Nations are Joining the Dangerous Cat and Mouse Game of Nuclear Missile Submarines

The Chinese military is poised to send submarines armed with nuclear missiles into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, arguing that new US weapons systems have so undermined Beijing’s existing deterrent force that it has been left with no alternative.


Noisy Nuclear Submarines Easy to Track

China and India Struggle to Create Credible Deterrent

The Chinese Type 094 Jin-class SSBN–“China’s first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent,” according to the Pentagon—is allegedly easier to detect than Soviet SSBNs from the late 1970s. Conversely, the acoustic signature of India’s Arihant-class SSBN “is not likely to be quieter than China’s Jin-class boats” the study notes. __

… “up to five [Jin-class (Type 094) SSBNs] may enter service before China proceeds to its generation SSBN (Type 096) over the next decade,” an indication that the noisy Jin-class design might already be seen as outdated. __

India’s nuclear missiles are targeted at Pakistan and China. But China’s nuclear missiles must target India, Russia and the United States, for use as a deterrent. India and Russia are within easy reach for Chinese missiles, but to hit the US Chinese missiles must overfly Russia. Good luck getting permission for that in time of war, when backstabbing among allied tyrannies is the norm.

The other option for the Chinese nuclear submarines would be to fire their missiles over Russia. The report notes, “All China’s ICBMs [inter-continental ballistic missiles] launched at the United States from their current deployment areas would overfly Russia.”


Noisy Russian Submarines

Russia’s problems with noisy submarines dates back to the days of the USSR. The Soviets had begun to make great strides toward achieving submarine stealth, when the USSR collapsed and split up. The Russians have still not gotten back on track, and are dangerously vulnerable to advanced western sensor technologies.

Despite all the boasting and bluster coming from Russia, there’s less and less available to back it up. … The noise is a fatal vulnerability for subs.

… Before 1991 the Russians had managed to steal a lot of the silencing tech and smuggle in special manufacturing equipment to create the quieter components. But all that ended in the 1990s and all the Russians had left were less than a dozen “quiet” nuclear subs that had been completed by 1991. After that Western, especially American, silencing and sensor tech continued to improve, although not as fast as during the Cold War.

… What Russia has not been able to do is keep up with silencing and detection (sensor) tech. American sub commanders are not being overconfident about all this but base their assessments on growing opportunities for the quieter American SSNs (especially the Virginias) to detect and Russian SSN (or diesel-electric boat) and stalk it for days or weeks without ever being discovered. This was a Cold War practice as well and how the U.S. Navy discovered, in the 1980s, that the latest Russian SSNs were much quieter. But there are few of them and now improved American sensors make them easier to detect.

While only one Yasen has been to sea (another will soon do so and four more are under construction) the U.S. apparently was able to detect and stalk it, getting a good sense of how much quieter (apparently not enough) it is.


Economic Troubles in Russia and China Will Make it Even Harder to Catch Up

Both Russia and China are dangerously dependent upon technology theft from the more advanced western world. Recent western sanctions against Russia (combined with low oil & gas prices) have made it more difficult for Russia to obtain the new technologies — which Russia herself cannot come close to producing. China, on the other hand, is losing its ability to attract foreign investment and foreign manufacturing facilities, which makes it more difficult for the dragon to steal advanced western technologies.

India — for all its corruption — stands alone as an emerging power that can maintain relatively good military and economic relations with virtually all nations of the advanced world. For that reason — and because of recent steps to reduce corruption in military procurement — India stands a good chance of accelerating its military development appreciably, with much foreign assistance.

The Expansion of the World’s Nuclear Submarine Missile Fleets Is Not a Good Omen

When the USSR fell in 1991, the world as a whole breathed a great sigh of relief, as it seemed that the threat of global nuclear war had almost disappeared. But with the emergence of Putin in Russia and Xi in China, the global nuclear threat is once again growing palpable. This is particularly true when one factors in belligerent and bellicose China / Russia allies such as North Korea, Pakistan, Iran — all determined to pose nuclear threats to political and ideological / religious enemies.

Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, will all want nuclear missile subs as soon as possible. And Russia, China, and India will keep trying to develop stealthier nuclear missile subs, in the attempt to play “hide the monkey” with the enemy du jour.

No matter how badly the US may want to retire from the world’s problems, it is unlikely that the rest of the world will allow it.


The US continues to advance its ability to track and destroy enemy submarines. This technology will be stolen by Russia, China, Iran, North Korea — but without the high tech infrastructure and supporting markets, the tyrant states will continue to lag and remain vulnerable.

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1 Response to Noisy Nuclear Submarines of China, India, Russia Take to Sea

  1. Matt Musson says:

    China has always been a brown water navy. Moving to the Blue water is harder and considerably more dangerous. Expect them to lose some boats along the way.

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