Thursday, 30 July, 2009

China casts a wary eye on India's nuclear sub

China took wary note of India's launch of its first indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine, but with Chinese focus shifting to the upgraded, high-profile Sino-US strategic and economic dialogue in Washington, DC, the official media gave it only passing mention.

The official news agency Xinhua put out a factual report on the launch, without any commentary. Even the rather more stridently nationalist Global Times, which has in recent times kept up a barrage of articles criticising India's "unwise military moves", offered no immediate comment.

Xinhua, however, amplified a Pakistan Navy spokesman's comment that India's launch of a nuclear-powered submarine would "trigger a nuclear arms race" and "destabilise the region".

Shijie Junshie (Global Military) magazine executive editor Chen Hu, a military historian and specialist in strategic affairs, said the muted international response to India's announcement of its nuclear-powered submarine programme reflected the world's "duplicitous" efforts to focus attention away from the development.

"If, instead of India, it had been Iran or North Korea that had made this announcement, there would have been a more stirring response from the international community... There would have been economic, diplomatic, and military sanctions and intimidation -- and even the threat of war," he noted.

Global Times has been far more shrill in recent weeks, and one of its most recent articles on India's "unwise military moves" remains one of the 'most commented' articles on its website. That article bluntly said: "India sees China as both a potential threat and a competitor to surpass. But India cannot compete with China in a number of areas, like international influence, overall national power, and economic scale. India apparently has not realised this."

Indian politicians "seem to think their country would be doing China a huge favour simply by not joining the 'ring around China' established by the US and Japan," the article speculated. It further claimed that India believes China will respond with "fear and gratitude" and "defer" to India on territorial disputes. "But this is wishful thinking, as China won't make any compromises in its border disputes with India. And while China wishes to coexist peacefully, this desire isn't born out of fear."

Monday, 27 July, 2009

Thirty Year Old SSG Refurbished

China's lone Golf class ballistic missile sub has apparently been refurbished, rather than scrapped. These diesel electric boats (SSGs) were introduced by Russia in the late 1950s, and 23 were built by the early 1960s, when attention was turned to nuclear ballistic missile boats (SSBN).

Fourteen Golfs were modified in 1966-72 to carry larger R-21 (1600 kilometer range) missiles. These boats remained in commission until 1990. A few years later, ten were sold to North Korea for scrap. It's not certain that North Korea actually dismantled all these subs. The North Korean No-Dong missiles was based on the R-21.

China received two Golf boats, seven R-11F missiles (a 300 kilometer range SCUD) and the building plans, from Russia in the 1960s, and the Chinese built one in the 1970s, as the JL-2. This boat rarely put to sea. The R-11F was the basis of later Chinese ballistic missile design. The recent refurbishment of the Chinese Golf apparently included changes to the three missile silos so the boat could be used to test new submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM).

The Golf was a 2,800 ton boat with a crew of 83 and three missile silos. There were also six torpedo tubes, and during the Cold War, these boats carried two torpedoes with nuclear warheads.

Sunday, 26 July, 2009

China unveils fleet of submarines in bid to build global trust

china will unveil its nuclear submarines this week at an international fleet review marking the 60th anniversary of its navy, official media reported yesterday.

The first known public appearance of the craft, off the northern port of Qingdao, will underscore the growing might of the People's Liberation Army navy and its attempts to build goodwill by increasing transparency.

The Chinese navy has gained prominence lately thanks to participation in the fleet battling pirates off the coast of Somalia - the first active mission outside the Pacific - and a confrontation with the US in the South China Sea last month.

The Chinese navy's commander, Admiral Wu Shengli, said the celebrations, which would include 21 ships from 14 foreign countries, would show his country as a force for "peace, harmony and co-operation" at sea, the Liberation Army Daily reported.

Wu told foreign commanders yesterday that navies needed to work together to confront transnational security threats such as piracy and terrorism. "Suspicions about China being a 'threat' to world security are mostly because of misunderstandings and lack of understandings about China," Wu's deputy, Vice-Admiral Ding Yiping, told the state news agency Xinhua. "The suspicions would disappear if foreign counterparts could visit the Chinese navy and know about the true situation."

He added: "It is not a secret that China has nuclear submarines, which are key to safeguarding our country's national security." Chinese media have speculated that the government will also use the celebrations to announce more details of its plan to build an aircraft carrier, which is seen by many as emblematic of its ambitions.

The United States and governments in the region are concerned about China's growing naval power, sea boundary disputes and rivalry for resources.

Admiral Gary Roughead, chief of US naval operations and a guest at the fleet parade, told reporters in Beijing he would use the visit to try to improve military relations, Reuters said. "We can all look at the types of ships and the types of airplanes and the numbers of airplanes - that's interesting and worthy of note," he said. "But it is how countries elect to use those capabilities, and what the purposes are that they see, and how they will use them and how they will interact with other navies. That's important and that's why this dialogue is under way."

He said Beijing had yet to specify the role an aircraft carrier would play.

"The fleet review and Somalia are being used by China to try to show that even as it projects its power it is not a threat to anyone," said Christian Le Miere, senior analyst for Asia at defence publication Jane's Country Risk. He said the PLA had sought to portray itself as transparent and a responsible partner, rebuilding military-to-military links with the US.

But he added that the US and Japan would be watching warily.

"The incident in the South China Sea was a very clear indication of the fears of both sides ... China is increasingly concerned by US monitoring of its activities and the US is increasingly concerned that the Chinese are developing longer-range blue-water capabilities," he said.

Last month the US accused Chinese boats, including a naval vessel, of harassing the USNS Impeccable in international waters, while China said the surveillance ship should not have been operating in its "exclusive economic zone". The stand-off took place 75 miles south of a major naval base.

The PLA navy has more than 225,000 personnel and is thought to have as many as 70 submarines, 10 of them nuclear-powered. It also has about 72 combat ships. But it is continuing to invest heavily in expanding and upgrading its fleet, with much of the PLA's hefty budget increases in recent years going to the navy.

Le Miere said China had focused on improving naval capabilities since the early 1990s as it became more confident about its land borders because of improved relations with Russia and the US, and land and air capabilities superior to those of its neighbours.

"We have seen new nuclear submarines, amphibious landing ships, fast attack craft and major surface weapons, and under the somewhat opaque 'Project 48' we are likely to see an aircraft carrier as well," he added.

Monday, 6 July, 2009

CNPIPC / CEIEC H-200 KS-1A / HQ-12 Phased Array / Triumphant Mountain

CNPIPC / CEIEC H-200 KS-1A / HQ-12 Phased Array / Triumphant Mountain
H-200 engagement radar and KS-1A TEL. The H-200 is semi-mobile, but with further evolution could qualify as mobile.

In 2000 the KS-1A was promoted as a new air defence missile, supplanting the earlier SA-2 copy known as the KS-1 (Kaishan-1, refer SJ-202).

A ‘medium-to-high altitude, long-range SAM guidance station’ is how this radar is presented and it is believed to be a Chinese reverse engineered copy of the American AN/MPQ-53 Patriot radar. This being the case, the H-200 can be expected to function in G-bands, offering integrated electronic sector surveillance, target detection (TD), target tracking (TT), Identification Friend & Foe (IFF), and missile guidance (MG) functionality.

The antenna face comprises surveillance, IFF, target illumination and data transmission elements, and will offer phase steered target detection over an approximate 90º sector and tracking over a somewhat wider sector, but less than 160º. Reported capability is as follows:

Target detection & tracking ranges:
Max detection range: ≥120km @8km altitude ≥50km @ 0.1km alt
Max stable tracking: ≥90km @8km alt ≥45km @ 0.1km alt
Target characteristics: RCS: 2m2
Max target velocity: 750m/s (2.18 Mach)
Manoeuvre overload: 5.5g
Tracking capacity: Accurate tracking 3 targets; Monitoring 3 targets; Guidance 6 missiles; Guidance error: ≤50m

Set-up time ≤30 mins Tear-down time ≤20 mins qualifying the radar as semi-mobile.

Note 1: The KS-1 missile is usually associated with the SJ-202, whereas the KS-1A is being associated with the H-200 / KS-1A phased array.
Note 2: Antenna is very similar to that of BL904. A deployed example of a H-200 / KS-1A phased array radar can be seen at 43º 56’ 57.18” North, 87º 40’ 25.49” East, surrounded by six probable KS-1A missile launchers.

CASIC SJ-231 / KS-1A/HQ-12 Phased Array Radar

CASIC SJ-231 / KS-1A/HQ-12 Phased Array Radar

The SJ-231 is an alternate radar for the KS-1A/HQ-12 SAM system, based on the HT-233 PESA antenna and cabin design. Cited performance is virtually identical to the H-200. Unlike the towed H-200, the SJ-231 is self propelled, but unlike the HT-233 it is split across a pair of 6 x 6 or 8 x 8 vehicles.

Specifications (CASIC):
Operating band: C (G/X) band
Radar cross section: 2m2
Maximum detection range: ≥120km
Minimum detection range: 3km
Operational performance: Altitude: 0.05~27km
Slant range: 5~70km (120 km)
Maximum operational airspace: Azimuth: 0~360º (mechanical rotation range)
-30º~+30º (electrical scanning range)
Elevation: -1º~+70º (electrical scanning range)

Target capability:
Guide 4~8 missiles to intercept 4 targets at the same time

"The SJ-231 guidance station is an important constituent part and the operational command and control center of the KS-1A weapon system. It is used to detect and track the aerial target and control and guide the missile. The SJ-231 guidance station is an advanced guidance radar system and is developed according to the modern war characteristics and the modern air-defense combat requirements. During the development of the guidance station, many advanced techniques in the radar technique development since 1990s are applied to improve the technical performance of the SJ-231 guidance station to a new level."

Engagement and Fire Control Radars of China

CPMIEC HT-233 / HQ-9/10 Phased Array Radar
This is the Chinese derivative of the Russian 30N6E1 Tomb Stone used to detect and track targets, and control the launch of the S-300PMU1 / SA-20 Gargoyle air defence missile. In the Chinese case, however, the HT-233 is also associated with the HQ-10, HQ-15, HQ-9 / FD-2000 or HQ-9 / FT-2000 surface-to-air Anti Radiation Missile. The latter was a combined Israeli/Chinese missile designed to take out the stand-off jammers which threaten SAM target designation radars. The parameter set is likely to be similar to that of 30N6E1 which it emulates.

It is reported that the PLAAF air defence forces based in Fujian Province near the Taiwan Strait, are equipped with the FT-2000 and Russian-made S-300PMU1 SAMs acquired between 1991 and 1998.

An FT-2000 battalion can function alone where it would seek its targets with ESM systems, but more commonly it is anticipated to be part of an S-300 detachment.

Little is known about the radar other than it may function in G-band, probably between 5.2 and 5.9 GHz a sub-band for which production components are readily available. From recent descriptions, the antenna would most likely appear to be a passive phased array employing some 3,000 ferrite phase shifters (the 30N6 uses ~10,000 elements). It has mechanical scan in azimuth and electronic beam steering in azimuth/elevation, like the 30N6E1, up to 65° off aperture boresight, and can track up to 50 targets simultaneously.

It is possibly that a variant of this radar, referred to by NATO as TOMB STONE, is installed in Type 051C LANZHOU class destroyers. S-300PMU1 / SA-20 and FT-2000 systems are deployed around Beijing and at Longtian, near Fuzhou, facing Taiwan. They are also deployed near the coastal cities of Xiamen in Fujian Province and Shantou in Guangdong province.

The radar is deployed primarily on the WS-2400 series 8 x 8 chassis, based on the Russian MAZ-543 vehicle.