Type 092 XIA SSBN gallery

China was well aware of the deterrent power of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) when they appeared in the late 1950s. However, it would be almost 30 years until the People’s Liberation Army Submarine Force had its first operational SSBN. The road was very long and full of problems despite already having a good starting point, such as the Type 091 Han class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), which were enlarged and to which around 15% of new equipment and components were added to finally make the first Chinese SSBN, the “Type 092 Daqingyu” or “Type 092 Xia Class SSBN”. The construction of SSBNs was requested by the Chinese Communist Party in 1958, following the request of Mao Zedong himself some time before, and was possible thanks to three important achievements of Chinese industry. The first was the construction of a nuclear submarine plant in Bohai, the second was the manufacture of the first Chinese nuclear reactor in 1965, and the third was the construction of the Type 091 Han class SSN, acquiring the knowledge and experience necessary to go a step further.
The design of the Type 092 SSBN contemplated the incorporation of a 22-meter-long section behind the conning tower, where 12 missile launch tubes were installed, but the beam and draft were the same as in the Han class SSN. It was calculated that the submarine would be about 2,500 tons heavier than the Han SSNs, so although the nuclear powerplant was the same as that installed on the Type 091 SSN, it was of greater power to compensate for the greater displacement of the new submarine. However, the speed of the Type 092 submarine was lower than that of the Han class and did not exceed 22 knots (41 km/h). The nuclear reactor powered two turbines that were coupled to a single shaft that had a 4-bladed propeller. The communications, electronic and missile firing equipment were all of Chinese origin and it had 3 navigation systems: inertial, stellar and satellite. Originally, it also carried the same Type 604 sonar as the Type 091 submarines.
Regarding armament, the Xia SSBN had six 533mm torpedo tubes, all located in the bow. The torpedoes were of the Yu-4B passive acoustic homing type. These torpedoes weighed 1,775 kg and carried a 309 kg warhead. Their range was 15 km and they had a maximum speed of 40 knots. It is likely that they could also carry up to 36 mines instead of torpedoes. The original main armament was composed of 12 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) “JL-1” (Julang-1) or “CSS-N-3” according to NATO designation. These missiles were the first SLBMs developed in China and carried a single 250-500 Kt nuclear warhead. The missiles measured 10.70 meters long by 1.40 meters in diameter and had solid fuel propellant. Its range was quite short for a ballistic missile and did not exceed 1,770 km. The missile’s guide was of the inertial type and its circular error probability (CEP) was estimated to be about 600 meters.
Type 092 SSBN was delivered in 1983, and was baptized “Changzheng 6“, receiving the hull number “406” and wearing a colorful blue-green paint. She was carrying out tests until 1987, when it was declared operational. But despite this statement, the truth is that she continued to perform constant tests throughout her career. This is why in some circles it is considered an experimental submarine with which the PLA Navy was preparing until the arrival of the much more powerful “Type 094” SSBN class or “Jin” class according to NATO designation. She carried out the first real launch of a JL-1 SLBM missile in September 1987, although it is rumored that she also carried out numerous “fake launches” within various political propaganda campaigns.
Between 1995 and 2001 it received many modernizations and improvements, such as the replacement of the original sonar with a hull mounted active/passive Type H/SQ2-262B “Trout Cheek” sonar, the change of the original paint for a black one and the integration of new JL-1A SLBM missiles with a range extended up to 2,500 km. A “Snoop Tray” surface exploration radar and a set of Type 921A electronic support measures (ESM) were also installed. However, it seems that this submarine always suffered from the same noise problems as the Type 091 SSN submarines, it is even stated that they were the loudest SSBN ever manufactured. Also, the short range of their SLBM missiles made them lack the effectiveness of this type of submarine and it is speculated that this submarine may have had reliability problems in the nuclear reactor, even with some radioactive leak involved. The Type 092 SSBN could be seen publicly for the first time during the naval parade commemorating the 60th anniversary of the PLA Navy.
It seems that the real operational career of the Type 092 submarine was limited to a single long patrol carried out in Chinese territorial waters. There was even speculation that the submarine caught fire and sank in 1985, which either did not happen, or happened to a second unit of this class launched in 1982, a matter never officially confirmed. What is beyond doubt is that the Type 092 submarine never gave the PLA Navy any deterrence capability. For effective deterrence, you must always have some SSBN patrolling, which cannot be achieved by having a single SSBN active, because during maintenance and inspection periods, deterrence is nullified by not having any SSBN patrolling. Unfortunately for the PLA Navy, this submarine always lacked the stealth and attack capabilities necessary to be an effective deterrent weapon.

Entradas relacionadas