Once again, China seems to have eliminated most of the flaws (if not all) on its latest SSBN (a nuclear submarine with ballistic missiles, also called the “Boomer”). A submarine of the 94 Type class has recently been spotted in something similar to sea trials.
China has long been seeking to send one of its SSBNs to combat patrols. The reason for this is that, to date, China has not been able to withdraw a single SSBN to combat patrols. America, Russia, Great Britain and France do it all the time. American SSBNs go on combat patrols with nuclear weapons on board and for half a century now they are ready to use it at any moment. What is happening with China? There, apparently, there was a combination of technical and political problems.
China has already created two generations of SSBNs. At the beginning of the 1980-s of the SSBN, the Type 92 was launched, but due to numerous technical problems, it never went into combat duty. She went out only on study trips in Chinese coastal waters. Only one such boat was built. In the last decade, the NPS Type 94 has appeared. In the West, it was believed that now Chinese SSBNs would be on alert, but this did not happen. It turned out that the SSBN Type 94 also had a lot of technical problems.
This sad saga began with the submarine Type 93, which looks like a thirty-year Soviet submarine of the class Victor III (project 671 "Pike"). The first submarine Type 93 was commissioned in the 2006 year. The submarine Type 93 became the basis when creating a SSBN Type 94, which looks the same as the Submarine Pike, only with a missile compartment. The idea of restructuring a nuclear submarine by adding additional compartments to deploy ballistic missiles is an old trick first used in the US in the 1950-ies in the production of the first stories SSBN The Chinese seem to have done the same with their new shock submarines Type 93, creating a large SSBN Type 94 with a displacement of 9000 tons. The priority seems to be given to the construction of SSBNs Type 94 as having nuclear missiles capable of reaching the territory of the United States. This will give China more influence than some of the new shock submarines. The first submarine Type 94 was commissioned three years ago. But so far it has not gone into the sea, equipped with nuclear warheads.
Having sent the first two new 7.000 ton submarines to the sea, Type 93, China, apparently, was not happy with their work. Submarines Type 94 does not expect better results. The 93 Type submarine turned out to be too noisy, and the list of smaller defects was too long. It is not entirely clear how many submarines the Type 93 will be built, probably no more than three or six. Additional resources appear to be directed to the creation of the next class of submarine submarines, Type 95 and the next class of SSBNs Type 96.
Nuclear submarines Type 93 and Type 94 have been in development and construction for more than ten years. Work on the 94 Type began in the 1990's. For years, all that was known was that the Chinese had technical problems on their boats. Type 94 is a modern nuclear submarine created using technologies acquired in Russia, plus what was independently achieved by the Chinese in their previous efforts in the field of nuclear submarine shipbuilding. Despite the fact that the Chinese are experiencing difficult times when trying to create reliable and low-noise nuclear submarines, they are determined to acquire the necessary skills. And they do it by trial and error. American intelligence believes that China is now focused on the development of new submarines Type 96. Thus, the detection of submarines Type 94 on the sea trials, most likely, indicates the development of new technologies designed for the Type 96.
There are other problems. It seems difficult for the Chinese government to send SSBNs armed with twelve or more SLBMs (submarine ballistic missiles), each of which carries one or more nuclear warheads. Western countries carefully select officers and crews of their SSBNs and use a variety of codes and procedures (PAL, "Permissive Action Links" or a safety device of a nuclear weapon to prevent unauthorized use of nuclear weapons) in order to ensure that no madman could use any of these SLBMs. Russia also carefully selects crew members and uses PAL codes, and a special services representative is present on its SSBNs, whose main task is to ensure that the SLBMs are used strictly by the command of the government from Moscow. China has always much less trusted its armed forces when it came to nuclear weapons. China also lacks advanced PAL technologies like Western ones. All this is rarely even mentioned in the West, but it is very relevant for China. Therefore, when the SSBN Type 96 appears at the end of this decade, they will show whether the Chinese government was able to overcome the distrust of its crews of submarines carrying nuclear weapons.