Clues in New Satellite Photos Point to Troubling Nuclear Development in China, Experts Say
Late last year, a Pentagon report warned that China was developing new attack submarines that could prevent anyone from coming to the rescue if China chooses to attack Taiwan.
Now, satellite images are making experts wonder if that report’s warning has become a reality.
Reuters reported that satellite images show a vessel, which could be either a new type of nuclear-powered attack submarine or an upgraded version of an existing submarine.
The new submarines are expected to include vertical launch tubes for guided missiles, which the Pentagon report said could be used to launch cruise missiles to attack land-based targets.
GEOINT analysis from 26 April to 03 May 2022 shows a possible new class of submarine at Huludao Port, China. https://t.co/epfzHDle1I #Geospatial #Intelligence #China #Huludao #Shipyard #NuclearPoweredSubmarine #SSN #DryDock #GlobalSecurity #NavalForceMonitoring #IMINT pic.twitter.com/g5XDE83IVL
— AllSource Analysis (@AllSourceA) May 4, 2022
According to Reuters, the images showed a submarine in a dry dock in Huludao Port in Liaoning province.
The submarine was not in the water between April 24 and May 4, but was later seen mostly submerged.
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Singapore-based security expert Collin Koh said the images are intriguing, but do not offer definitive proof of what China is up to as it moves toward an upgraded “hunter-killer” submarine fleet.
The images “are very interesting but it is still very hard to be sure yet whether we are looking at some kind of refit for testing or a whole new class of submarine,” Koh said.
Koh said China may move to adopt quieter propulsion system, but the rear of the sub was not visible enough to see what changes have been made.
Fresh Google Earth satellite imagery shows steady progress at China’s new submarine construction facility. It is less than a month old
Some interesting things can be observed.
Nod @tshugart3 pic.twitter.com/DRETUjNOfP
— H I Sutton (@CovertShores) April 12, 2022
Jeffrey Lewis, a professor in arms control at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, also said that the photos do not provide solid evidence that China now has a new class of sub.
“It’s plausible, but there are questions I’d want answered. It wasn’t in dry dock very long, and it is unclear how they may have reconfigured this submarine,” he said. “Given the Pentagon report, there is certainly a lot of interest.”
Satellite images raise prospect of new class of #Chinese submarine https://t.co/OmwMg1dWi4 #China pic.twitter.com/5G6U1xe6Ir
— Ben Jones (@benjones1k) May 10, 2022
The Pentagon report said the new sub China is developing could “enhance the PLAN’s anti-surface warfare capability and could provide a clandestine land-attack option if equipped with land-attack cruise missiles,” referring to the People’s Liberation Army Navy, China’s formal name for its naval forces.
“New attack submarines and modern surface combatants with anti-air capabilities and fourth-generation naval aircraft entering the force are designed to achieve maritime superiority within the First Island Chain as well as to deter and counter any potential third-party intervention in a Taiwan conflict,” the report continued.
Fox News noted that U.S. submarines have the capability China appears to be developing.