From the newspaper of record I present the naval analysis by the New York Times.
Several recent events, from an eagle-eyed spotting of an image on Google Earth to an overt military delivery from Russia, suggest that China is continuing its rapid expansion of a submarine fleet that would be particularly useful in a conflict with the United States over Taiwan, analysts and military officials said.
I can't say there is anything in this article that is new, or interesting, but I do think it is important something like this gets into the New York Times. We are rapidly approaching a news cycle where China's submarine fleet growth is going to be the discussion. The rate of increase is going to be difficult to ignore, and as one year comparison go, we are in the middle of a really good year for PLAN growth.
In the Office of Naval Intelligence Chinese Navyreport last year, I believe it was released last April, the report highlighted 55 submarines for the PLAN. In the report Taiwan released as its 2007 review in December, it identified 60 submarines. According to those who watch the shipyards, there have been 2 submarines put to sea since the new year, meaning the number could be as high at 62 today.
If that number holds, and it could certainly go up, China will have built 7 new submarines in a single year, with no sign of letting down and NONE of those submarines imported by Russia, vs the US Navy's one annual submarine construction rate. Wait until they start talking about frigates and destroyers, much less if the DoD decides to provide an exact number of Tye 022s. Unless I'm missing something, China has put to sea something like 20 ships and submarines since last year, and while not all are combatants, 20 isn't a low number and there is no evidence the rate of construction is slowing down.
Quantity has a quality all its own. I read the ONI report again over the weekend, and this stuck out under the PLAN submarine training section. (Page 37)
The old concept of single submarines departing early in the morning and returning late on the same day was replaced with the concept of multiple submarines conducting navigation training together over multiple days throughout the day and night.
The old concept of single submarines conducting independent training was replaced with multiple submarines attacking as a task force.
The PLAN replaced the old basic training method of simple and redundant training with mission-oriented training subjects.
The old method of training on single submarine tactics per sortie was replaced with training on several ombined-arms tactics simultaneously in a combined-arms environment.
Everywhere I read lately, "multiple submarines" and "training as a task force" seems to pop out. In modeling the PLAN for simulation, if this isn't streetfighter and wolfpacks. then what is it?