In recent years, against the background of the shock rates of economic growth in the PRC, the modernization of the armed forces has been taking place. Over the past ten years, the military budget of the PRC in dollar terms has doubled and, according to the Stockholm Peace Research Institute, amounted to $ 216 billion in 2014. For comparison: US defense spending was $ 610 billion, and Russia - $ 84.5 billion.
Together with strategic nuclear forces, ground forces and aviation, the navy is also actively developing. Since the 90s, the Chinese People's Liberation Army's navy has been actively replenished by purchasing warships from Russia. But in the past few years, this practice has become a thing of the past. In the PRC, several large warships of its own construction are handed over to the navy every year, including diesel and nuclear submarines, frigates and destroyers with guided missile weapons.
Taking into account foreign experience, developed and serially built at Chinese enterprises: missile boats, frigates, destroyers and large landing ships. At the same time, China believes that "all means are good" in strengthening the country's defense capability. When designing warships, the Chinese do not disdain ideas and technical solutions obtained with the help of "technical espionage." Modern destroyers, corvettes and large landing ships built recently in the PRC are a bizarre mixture of Soviet and Western technology with a national Chinese flavor.
China is now moving away from its past practice of purchasing warships abroad, preferring to spend financial resources and create jobs domestically, providing orders for its own shipyards. In recent years, in Russia, the Chinese have not been buying entire warships, but only some units, equipment and weapons. These are mainly modern anti-ship and anti-aircraft systems. At the same time, China is actively developing its own analogues. Unlike in previous years, now these are not "Chineseized" copies, but often original developments created by numerous Chinese research institutes.
In the Pacific direction, the PLA navy from the fleets of regional powers can only compete with the warships of the Japan Naval Self-Defense Forces. But it is difficult to imagine that the Japanese leadership will decide to aggravate relations with the PRC without the support and approval of the United States. Thus, the main potential enemy is still the 7th Operational Fleet of the US Navy. The headquarters of the commander of the 7th US Fleet is located at the Yokosuka naval base (Japan).
The 7th Fleet has at least one Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and ten Ticonderoga and Arleigh Burke-class URO-class cruisers and destroyers on a permanent basis. An aircraft carrier strike group also usually includes several multipurpose nuclear submarines. American missile cruisers, destroyers and nuclear submarines, among other weapons, also carry BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles with a launch range in the Tomahawk Block IV modification of up to 1600 km. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier carries 48 F / A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighter-bombers.
Over the past 20 years, the Chinese Navy has evolved from a coastal navigation fleet, whose main task was to defend the coast, into a full-fledged oceanic fleet. The current goal of the PLA Navy is to build a near defensive perimeter that China is building along its coastline. In China it is called the "first island chain". It includes the South China, East China and Yellow Seas. The long-range defense perimeter extends into the open ocean, up to 1,500 nautical miles offshore. The main purpose of the presence of the Chinese navy in this zone is to counteract foreign warships carrying cruise missiles, as well as aircraft carriers on which strike deck aviation is based.
Mainly, the Chinese fleet is faced with the task of protecting the coast of the PRC, along which most of the population lives in favorable climatic conditions and about 70% of industrial enterprises are located. This is clearly seen in the way administrative-industrial and defense facilities are covered by air defense systems on the territory of the PRC.
The layout of the radar and air defense system on the territory of the PRC (blue diamonds - radar, colored figures - air defense system)
In addition, recently, the naval component of the Chinese strategic nuclear forces - type 094 SSBNs, which carry 12 JL-2 ballistic missiles with a range of 8,000 km, began to conduct combat patrols in areas controlled by Chinese surface forces and aircraft.
The Chinese naval forces consist of 3 operational fleets: Northern, Eastern and Southern. As of the beginning of 2015, the PLA Navy had 972 ships, including: one aircraft carrier, 25 destroyers, 48 frigates and 9 nuclear and 59 diesel submarines, 228 landing ships, 322 coast guard patrol ships, 52 minesweepers and 219 auxiliary vessels.
As already mentioned, in the 21st century, the Chinese naval fleet went from a coastal one to an ocean one. In 2002, a squadron of the PLA Navy made the first round-the-world voyage in the history of the Chinese navy in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. In 2012, the PLA Navy received the first aircraft carrier, which marked a new stage in its development. All this demonstrates the strengthening of the role of the fleet in ensuring the country's security. In addition, the Chinese fleet is increasingly becoming an instrument of political influence and a weighty argument in numerous territorial disputes with neighbors.
Surface fleet. Destroyers, frigates and corvettes
In the 70-90s in the PRC, the construction of the destroyers pr. 051 of the "Luda" type was carried out, which were the Soviet pr. 41 reworked in the PRC. Unlike the USSR, where only one ship was built for this not very successful project, Chinese shipyards handed over 17 destroyers to the Chinese fleet. The last of the ships, completed according to Project 051G, entered the Southern Fleet in 1993. According to the reference books, most of the Chinese destroyers of this project are still formally in the fleet.
EM pr. 051
The main strike weapon of the Project 051 EM was the HY-2 (C-201) anti-ship complex with an upgraded launch range of up to 100 km. The HY-2 rocket was created on the basis of the Soviet P-15 anti-ship missile system and is currently considered outdated due to the need for refueling with liquid fuel and an aggressive oxidizer, subsonic flight speed and low noise immunity.
Start RCC HY-2
Apparently, anti-ship missiles of this type will be dismissed along with the carriers that have not been upgraded by EM pr. 051 over the next few years.
Launch of anti-ship missiles YJ-83
By the early 2000s, some of the ships of this project were modernized according to the 051G project. The previously installed 2x3 HY-2 anti-ship missile launchers were replaced with more modern ones - 4x4 YJ-83 (C-803) anti-ship missile launchers with a launch range of 160 km. This is a fairly modern rocket with an active radar seeker and a turbojet engine accelerates at the final stage of the flight to supersonic speed.
In 1994 and 1996, two destroyers of project 052 (of the "Lühu" type) entered the Chinese fleet. Compared to the EM project 051, they were larger, better armed and had a longer cruising range and seaworthiness. The ships were intended to deliver attacks with anti-ship missiles on enemy surface ships, anti-submarine defense, as well as for fire support of the landing force and shelling of coastal targets. For self-defense, they have an HQ-7 near-zone air defense system, created on the basis of the French Crotale anti-aircraft system. The main means of fighting surface targets is the YJ-83 anti-ship complex with sixteen anti-ship missiles.
EM project 052
The design of these destroyers was carried out in the early to mid-80s, at a time of improving relations between the PRC and Western countries. When creating the destroyers, the Chinese counted on American, British and French technical assistance. However, after the events in Tiananmen Square and the ensuing Western embargo on the supply of weapons and dual-use technologies, they had to rely on their own strength. This significantly increased the construction time of the ships and limited the series.
The first surface warships in the Chinese fleet capable of delivering truly effective strikes against the AUG at a considerable distance from their coast were the destroyers of Project 956E supplied from Russia, armed with the supersonic anti-ship missiles P-270 Moskit. The first ship "Hangzhou" was transferred to the PRC at the end of 1999, and the second "Fuzhou" at the end of 2000. In 2005-2006, the combat strength of the PLA Navy was replenished with two more destroyers "Taizhou" and "Ningbo", built according to an improved project of the project 956EM. In total, these four destroyers, capable of operating in the oceanic zone, carry 32 anti-ship missiles with a launch range of up to 120 km and a maximum speed of about 2.8M.
Chinese destroyers pr. 956E and 956EM
An incident that occurred on April 1, 2001, 100 km from the Chinese island of Hainan, is associated with the destroyers of the project 956E delivered from Russia. The American EP-3E "Airis II" electronic reconnaissance aircraft, which was monitoring these ships, while trying to force it out of the exercise area, collided in the air with the Chinese J-8II fighter-interceptor. As a result of the collision, the Chinese plane fell into the sea, and its pilot was killed. The American "electronic spy" was planted at the Lingshui airfield on the Chinese island of Hainan under the threat of the use of weapons. Subsequently, the American side apologized for the incident and paid monetary compensation to the widow of the deceased Chinese pilot. The Chinese were able to familiarize themselves in detail with the American intelligence and encryption equipment installed on the EP-3E Airis II. Only in July 2001, the EP-3E was returned to the United States in the form of scrap metal on board the Russian An-124-100 Ruslan transport aircraft of the Polet airline.
In the Soviet and Russian navies, the destroyers of Project 956 had the dubious fame of ships with a very capricious main power plant, which made high demands on literacy in operation and maintenance. However, the experience of using these destroyers in the PLA Navy demonstrates that with proper performance discipline, regular maintenance and repair, these are quite reliable and capable combat ships.
Further development of the Chinese fleet destroyers project 051B (of the "Liuhai" type). Chinese shipbuilders, while maintaining the functional purpose of the ship, by increasing the geometric dimensions of the hull, tried to significantly increase the cruising range and autonomy.
Destroyer "Shenzhen" project 051B
The experiment was not very successful, only one ship was built - "Shenzhen", transferred to the PLA Navy in 1999. Nevertheless, this destroyer took an active part in a number of long cruises. In 2000 he visited a number of ports in Africa, and in 2001 he visited ports in the UK, Germany, Italy and France. Its main strike weapon, as well as on the EV 051G, is 16 YJ-83 anti-ship missiles in 4x4 launchers.
In 2007, two destroyers of project 051C entered the Chinese Navy: "Shenyang" and "Shijiazhuang". While maintaining the architectural and structural features of the 051B project, the main emphasis in the creation of these ships was placed on strengthening their anti-aircraft systems. The main purpose of the destroyers pr.051C is to provide air defense for operational formations of surface ships.
Destroyer pr. 051S
A feature of the destroyers of pr. 051S is the presence of Russian-made S-300F (Rif-M) air defense missile systems. In total, there are six launchers on board with 48 missiles ready for launch with a range of up to 90 kilometers and an altitude of up to 30 kilometers.
Project 052 served as the basis for a number of more advanced ships in terms of equipment, weapons and seaworthiness. The destroyers of projects 052В and 052С have become much larger than their "ancestor". The main difference between Project 052B and Project 052S was the functional purpose of the ships, which have much in common in terms of the hull and power base.
Destroyers of project 052V (of the "Guangzhou" type) carry 16 anti-ship missiles YJ-83, the ship's air defense is provided by two anti-aircraft missile systems "Shtil" with a range of up to 50 km of destruction of air targets. The lead ship, Guangzhou, and the Wuhan that followed, entered service in 2004.
EM pr 052S
Destroyers of pr. 052S are ships created to support the group air defense of a squadron of surface ships. According to this project, two destroyers were built, which entered service in 2004-2005. They are armed with a Chinese-made HQ-9 air defense system, which is based on the Russian C-300F. The number of PU anti-ship missiles YJ-62 (C-602) on board was reduced to eight. However, the YJ-62, in comparison with the YJ-83 anti-ship missile system, has a significantly larger engagement zone (400 versus 160), but the YJ-62 has a subsonic flight speed, which significantly increases its vulnerability to air defense systems.
Launch anti-ship missiles YJ-62
The missile entered service with the PLA Navy in 2004. When it was created, the technical solutions of the Soviet KR X-55 were used, missile samples and technical documentation were received from Ukraine.
The pinnacle of the evolution of Chinese destroyers today is the Aegis-like project 052D, it has a new multifunctional radar with an active phased antenna array, as well as a modern integrated weapons control system.
EM pr 052D
Due to the increase in length and width, 64 vertical launch launchers (two UVPs with 32 cells each) with HQ-9A missiles, anti-ship missiles with an increased firing range and anti-ship missiles for hitting targets on land are placed on board. Thus, in the near future, the Chinese fleet will have universal ships capable of performing a wide range of tasks, including strikes with cruise missiles on coastal targets.
Frigates are the most numerous class of large warships in the PLA Navy. Along with destroyers, they are capable of solving the tasks of anti-submarine defense, fighting surface ships, destroying air targets in the near zone of the air defense of ship groups and protecting the economic zone of the PRC. The frigates of the Chinese fleet account for about 18% of the total number of anti-ship missiles deployed on warships of the PRC Navy.
In the period from 1986 to 1993, on the basis of the Soviet TFR pr. 50, frigates pr. 053 (of the "Jianhu" type) were built. Their main purpose was to fight surface ships in the coastal zone of the PRC. For this, the frigates had two twin HY-2 anti-ship missile launchers.
Among themselves, frigates of various series of pr. 053 differed in the composition of onboard equipment, communication and navigation facilities, as well as various types of artillery weapons. Some of the frigates in the first half of the 2000s were re-armed with anti-ship missiles YJ-83 4x2 PU.
Frigate pr. 053
The frigates of the first modifications of Project 53 are now considered obsolete, they are rightly criticized for ineffective anti-ship missiles, the absence of an air defense system and a helicopter platform. These shortcomings were partially eliminated in the modernized URO frigate, project 053N2 ("Jianghu-3"). The structural and architectural appearance of the ship was modified and outwardly it began to resemble the next generation frigates. According to this project, seven frigates were built.
Frigate pr. 053H2G
In 1990-1994, a series of four frigates of project 053H2G was built. The armament of ships of this type includes 3x2 anti-ship missile launchers YJ-82 (C-802) and an air defense system of the near zone HQ-61, in the aft part there is a platform for an anti-submarine helicopter.
Frigate project 053H3
From 1995 to 2005, 10 frigates of project 053H3 (type "Jianwei-2") were built. These ships are armed with a short-range HQ-7 air defense system with 8 missiles and 2 launchers for 4 YJ-83 anti-ship missiles.
Since 2002, the shipyards of the Chinese State Shipbuilding Corporation have been building frigates URO pr. 054. This project was developed to replace obsolete frigates pr. 053H. A number of technical solutions, typical for modern ships of this class, were introduced in the ships of project 054, they used technologies to reduce radar and thermal signature, and vertical missile launchers were installed.
Launch of HQ-16 missiles from the Chinese frigate 054A
As of mid-2013, 2 frigates of project 054 and 15 frigates of project 054A were transferred to the Chinese fleet by shipbuilding enterprises located in the cities of Shanghai and Guangzhou. On frigates built according to the improved project 054A, the obsolete HQ-7 air defense systems were replaced by the HQ-16 air defense systems (32 SAM, 2x16 VPU), which is an analogue of the Russian Shtil-1 complex. The frigate has a helipad and a hangar. The main anti-ship weapons are 8 YJ-83 anti-ship missiles in two four launchers.
In February 2013, the first corvette, project 056, entered service. The project of this ship was developed on the basis of an export corvette of the Pattani type for the Thai Navy. The need for a coastal patrol ship with powerful strike weapons and good living conditions for the crew, with a displacement of 1300-1500 tons, matured back in the 80s.
Corvette pr. 056
The corvette's body is made using elements that reduce radar signature. Ships of project 056 are the first combat ships of modular design, developed in the PRC. This allows, if necessary, it is quite easy to change the composition of equipment and weapons, without making changes to the main design of the corvette. The selection of modules allows you to create various options based on a single body. The following versions of the corvette have been developed and offered to potential buyers: patrol, anti-submarine, strike, with enhanced air defense systems, headquarters and multipurpose.
The standard armament of the multipurpose version, in addition to torpedo and artillery armament, includes a new Chinese HHQ-10 near-zone air defense system with a launch range of 9000 m and 2x2 YJ-83 anti-ship missiles. For the next decade in the PRC, to protect the coast and protect the economic zone, it is planned to build more than 50 "stealth corvettes" pr. 056 in various configurations.
The submarine forces of the PLA Navy are among the largest in the world (first in the number of diesel-electric submarines) and rank third after the United States and Russia. Currently, there are about 70 submarines in the combat strength of the PRC Navy. Chinese submarines carry about 15% of the PLA naval anti-ship missiles, about 80% of torpedoes and 31% of mines.
At the beginning of the 60s, despite the beginning of the deterioration of relations in the PRC, the documentation of the diesel-electric submarines of pr. 633 was transferred. The construction of these boats on pr. 033 was carried out in the PRC until 1983. A total of 84 boats of this type were built, some of them were exported. Currently, the boats of the project 633 are outdated. During the construction and operation of diesel-electric submarines pr. 033 were repeatedly modernized. They were equipped with high-capacity batteries, French hydroacoustic systems and modern electronic equipment. But the composition of the main equipment and weapons did not undergo any special changes. Almost all submarines of this type have been withdrawn from the combat strength of the PLA Navy, a certain number of them can be used for training purposes.
Diesel-electric submarines pr. 035
On the basis of diesel-electric submarines of project 033 in the PRC, boats of project 035 (type "Min") were built. It differs from the previous project "Min" by a different design of the body and power plant. In total, from 1975 to 2000, 25 diesel-electric submarines of project 035 were built. Currently, the number of boats of this project in the Chinese fleet is estimated at 20 units. The modernized boats were designated as projects 035G and 035B. They are equipped with French passive GAS and an advanced fire control system. Against modern warships, Project 035 submarines are of limited operational capability in coastal areas, they can also be involved in covert mine laying. Some of the boats are used as training and experimental boats for testing new types of weapons.
The latest achievement of Chinese engineers in the field of creating diesel-electric submarines were diesel-electric submarines of pr. 039 ("Sun" type). This boat was created taking into account its own and partly Soviet experience, elements of the architecture of the French submarine Agosta were also used.
Diesel-electric submarines pr. 039
Particular attention was paid to the creation of this Chinese project to reduce the level of acoustic signature and improve the impact characteristics. The hull of the Chinese diesel-electric submarine is covered with a special anti-acoustic tiled coating, as on the Russian boats of project 877.
The creation and development of the boat went hard. Due to serious errors in calculations and the novelty of many technical solutions, the noise and some other characteristics of the first boat did not correspond to the planned ones. Great criticism was caused by the operation of the BIUS and GAS equipment.
The first boat, project 039, launched in May 1994, was tested, refined and corrected for 5 years. The PRC leadership decided not to build boats of this type until the head submarine reaches a satisfactory level of combat and operational characteristics. Only after the completion of the project, which received the designation pr. 039G, a series of 15 boats was laid, the last of which entered service in 2007.
In general, diesel-electric submarines pr. 039G correspond to the level of French and German boats of the mid-80s. In addition to various types of torpedoes from the standard 533 mm torpedo tubes, an underwater launch of the YJ-82 anti-ship missile system with a range of 120 km is possible. This Chinese anti-ship missile system is similar in its characteristics to the American UGM-84 Harpoon of early modifications.
The start of serial construction and the adoption of Sun-class submarines in the PRC forced American admirals to reconsider their views on the capabilities of the PRC's shipbuilding industry to create modern submarines and on the extent of the "Chinese submarine threat." The incident that happened on October 26, 2006, confirmed that the Americans' fears about the strengthening of the capabilities of the PRC's submarine fleet are fully justified. Then the Chinese submarine of project 039G, having remained unnoticed, managed to approach the distance of a torpedo salvo to the American aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, which was at that moment in the international waters of the South China Sea. After that, the boat demonstratively surfaced near the American squadron. The Chinese submarine was not detected by the AUG anti-submarine forces until the moment of its surfacing.
The moral and physical obsolescence of the boats pr. 033 and 035, as well as the uncertainty with a new submarine of its own design, forced the Chinese leadership to start purchasing diesel-electric submarines in Russia. The first two boats of Project 877 EKM were delivered in 1995. After them in 1996 and 1999, two more boats of project 636 arrived. The difference between the diesel-electric submarines of project 636 and project 877 EKM is the use of new technologies for noise reduction and modern on-board equipment.
Loading torpedo 53-65KE on diesel-electric submarines pr.877EKM of the PLA Navy
In the early 2000s, an order was announced in Russia for eight more boats of project 636M, which were "sharpened" for the 3M54E1 Club-S anti-ship missiles, launched submerged from a depth of 30-40 m. Club-S anti-ship missiles with a range of up to 300 km represent an export version of the Russian Kalibr-PL missile system. The missile is equipped with an active anti-jamming radar seeker, which captures a target at a distance of about 60 km. Most of its path to the target, it passes at an altitude of 15-20 m at cruising subsonic speed. At a distance of about 20 km from the target, the rocket begins to accelerate to a speed of about 3M, while it performs a zigzag anti-zenith maneuver. In the event of an attack on large surface targets, a salvo launch of several anti-ship missiles is possible, which will attack the target from different directions.
In 2004, the PRC began testing a submarine, project 041 (of the "Yuan" type). "Chinese comrades" tried to embody in this project the best qualities of the Russian project 636M, taking into account their own capabilities. Initially, it was planned to equip the boat with an auxiliary air-independent power plant. The Yuan ammunition includes YJ-82 or CX-1 anti-ship missiles, launched through torpedo tubes.
Diesel-electric submarines pr. 041
Apparently, the Chinese submarine of project 041 failed to surpass the Russian boats of project 636M. In any case, so far nothing has been heard about the massive construction of these boats for the PLA Navy. At the same time, project 041 is actively offered for export.
In 1967, the PRC laid the foundation for the first Chinese torpedo nuclear submarine, project 091 (of the "Han" type), formally it entered service in 1974. But the elimination of numerous defects, including in the nuclear power plant, took another 6 years, and the boat began to carry out combat service only in 1980.
Nuclear submarine pr. 091
In total, until 1991, the Chinese fleet received five nuclear submarines of this type. Despite the modernization of a number of units, on-board equipment and weapons, boats of this type were hopelessly outdated by the beginning of the XXI century. The introduction of the most recent YJ-8Q anti-ship missile submarines into the armament did not greatly enhance their ability to combat enemy surface ships. Since the launch of missiles is possible only on the surface, and in terms of noise level, the nuclear submarines of pr. 091 are 2, 5-2, 8 times inferior to foreign boats of a similar class. Several Han-class nuclear submarines are still in the Navy, but their time has passed and these first submarines with nuclear reactors, which became a "training desk" for several generations of Chinese submariners, will soon become a thing of the past.
At the beginning of 2007, the lead multipurpose nuclear submarine of pr. 093 (of the Shan type) entered service. It was designed to replace the outdated nuclear submarines of project 091. In terms of its main characteristics, this Chinese submarine roughly corresponds to the Soviet multipurpose nuclear-powered submarines of project 671RTM. As of the beginning of 2014, the PRC Navy had two nuclear submarines of project 093, the arrival of two more built according to the improved design is expected in the near future.
Nuclear submarine pr. 093
The nuclear submarines of pr. 093 have the ability to launch YJ-82 anti-ship cruise missiles through torpedo tubes while submerged. There is also information that new YJ-85 (S-705) with a launch range of up to 140 km are used on these nuclear submarines. On the YJ-85 anti-ship missiles, depending on the modification, active radar or infrared seeker is used. The course correction on the cruising leg of the flight is carried out according to the signals of the satellite positioning system.
According to the ten-year program, 6 more Shan-class boats are expected to be built in the next 10 years. In addition, in the PRC, a new generation of nuclear submarines is being designed, which, in terms of their characteristics, should come close to Russian and American nuclear submarines.