Appearance of three Chinese nuclear submarines is reminder that ASW remains a high priority

THE MIL & AERO BLOG, 3 June 2014. As if we needed yet another reminder that the U.S. military's era of the uncontested battlefield is nearly over, intelligence experts have photographed three Chinese Type 094 nuclear missile submarines docked at a naval base in the South China Sea.

After big defense cuts, what lies ahead?
After big defense cuts, what lies ahead?
THE MIL & AERO BLOG, 3 June 2014. As if we needed yet another reminder that the U.S. military's era of the uncontested battlefield is nearly over, intelligence experts have photographed three Chinese Type 094 nuclear missile submarines docked at a naval base in the South China Sea.

This is another stark reminder that the U.S. Navy won't be uncontested master of the world's oceans for much longer -- if indeed the Navy remains so today.

China is aggressively building a blue-water Navy to match the power of the shrinking U.S. Navy, and the Chinese navy is being designed around one core objective: to cripple or destroy U.S. aircraft carriers, which for decades have been the spearhead of projecting U.S. military power throughout the world.

The three nuclear-powered Chinese submarines were photographed in port at the Yalong Bay naval base on Hainan Island near Vietnam. The photo was released by the U.S. media just last week. An accompanying story is by Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon, a veteran intelligence and defense expert.

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These Chinese missile boats pose a new and different kind of threat. These vessels are designed to fulfill similar roles to those of U.S. Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines: deploy, hide, and if necessary, launch a devastating salvo of nuclear-tipped missiles at U.S. cities and military bases.

China hasn't been long in the ballistic missile submarine club. Until recently only the U.S. and Russia were the major purveyors of this kind of technology. Make no mistake, the nuclear ballistic missile submarine is the most dangerous weapon on Earth, and one of the most powerful weapons ever conceived of.

Think of it as a stealthy, silent, and mobile collection of nuclear missile silos. They deploy quietly, submerge quickly, and remain hidden under the waves for months at a time. Tracking them is difficult and imprecise.

Related: Non-acoustic anti-submarine warfare (ASW) technologies are goal of DARPA SWASH research program

Once these modern doomsday machines go to sea and shake off any pursuers, they have global reach and devastating fire power.

Take the U.S. Navy Ohio-class submarine as an example. It carries 24 Trident D5 nuclear missiles -- each one with as many as four independently targeted W88 475-kiloton nuclear warheads. Each of those 96 nuclear explosives is about 30 times as powerful as the U.S. nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

It's unlikely the Chinese missile submarines ave that level of firepower, but they're probably not that far behind.

It's just a gentle noodge that no only do we no longer live in an uncontested world, but that anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability shouldn't be neglected in the Pentagon.

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