New Chinese Submarine Simulator Provides Clues To Future Naval Power

China's stealthiest nuclear attack submarine hasn't hit the water yet, but the Navy already has a simulator for the Type 095

Type 095

The Type 095 SSN simulator has a wide variety of functions, including bridge, and periscope view (on the right), as shown by this placard at a Chinese Navy (People’s Liberation Army Navy/PLAN) facility.

The Type 095 nuclear attack submarine (SSN) will be China’s stealthiest nuclear submarine when it enters service sometime between 2017 and 2019. The Chinese Navy (PLAN) can’t wait for their new boat; they’ve already built a simulator to train future Type 095 crewers. The PLAN’s willingness to build a submarine simulator at this early stage suggests that not only will the Type 095 SSN be a significant improvement over its predecessor, but that its systems, such as a quieter reactor and improved sonar, are likely progressing as well.

The simulator is an indoor submarine-shaped capsule contains a mockup of a Type 095 bridge, which contains several consoles. A “095” number is helpfully painted onto the capsule conning tower. The controls and computer screens attached to the console are likely to simulate the operations of the Type 095’s combat systems, sensors like its sonar and photonics mast, and ability to communicate with other Chinese assets, such as underwater robots and surface warships. The purpose of such a simulator would be to familiarize future Type 095 crews with the submarine’s new combat system, to test crews’ group dynamics when faced with combat and mechanical emergencies, as well as to refine the combat system using simulation feedback.

Type 095 Spotted

The “095” number painted on the conning tower of the simulator identifies it, along with its modern electronics, as a training tool for China’s next generation SSN.

The plan is that the Type 095 SSN would combine the long endurance and fast speeds of noisy Chinese Type 091 and Type 093 SSNs with the stealth and survivability of its conventional attack submarines. In addition to being quieter than the previous Type 093 SSN, the Type 095 will have greater vertical launch system (VLS) capability for land attack and anti-ship cruise missiles to extend its offensive capabilities in denied environments filled with enemy submarines and aircraft. Just as important to the Type 095 are its computer and combat systems,which will improve China’s submarine fleet’s ability to operate alongside other Chinese naval assets like the Type 055 cruiser, aircraft carriers and Y-8Q anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The Type 095’s improved active and passive sensors would collect vast amounts of data which would be processed by its computer, so that the Type 095 and other PLAN assets could have more options to target and avoid enemies at greater range.

Type 093B

The Type 093B is a modernized version of the Type 093 SSN. The Type 093B is quieter than its predecessor and could have a vertical launch system for cruise missiles. The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence estimates that China has launched three of these submarines, with a fourth expected in 2014. The Type 095 SSN is expected to be quieter, more heavily armed with more VLS and equipped with better sensors than the Type 093B.

Type 093

The Type 093 was designed in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and launched in 2002 and 2003. Only two Type 093s were built, as they are considered noisy and expensive, though much an improvement over the 1960s era Type 091 SSN. The Type 093B is believed to be much quieter than the Type 093, building on decades of Chinese advances in metallurgy and reactor/propulsion refinements.

If the Type 095 SSN lives up to expectations of matching current foreign SSNs like the USN’s Los Angeles 688i class or Russian Akula II SSN, it would provide China with a quantum leap in underwater warfare capabilities. Fast and stealthy Type 095 SSNs would give China a rapidly deployable global naval and land attack capability, similar to what the other four nuclear powers already possess. The Type 095 would also make a good submarine hunting platform in the deep blue waters, to protect Chinese commerce and warships. Just as the Type 052D destroyer and the Type 071 Landing Platform Dock provide China with long range air defense and amphibious warfare capabilities, the Type 095 represents another part of China’s growing global naval power and reach.

Thanks to tphuang for catching a typo on the 093B caption.

You may also be interested in:

Chinese Navy Stars in U.S. Intelligence Report

New Chinese Submarines to Pakistan

China’s Submarine Hunting Plane Has a Giant Stinger

New Photos Show China’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Tool Kit Growing

Not a Shark But a Robot, Chinese University Tests Long Ranged Unmanned Mini-Sub

Virtual Reality Is Not Just for Facebook: Chinese Pilots Train in 3D

New Chinese Submarine Doesn’t Need to Come Up for Air… in Several Weeks

Missile Sub Pairs with Aircraft Carrier