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China's expanding submarine fleet makes experts worry about Taiwan's readiness

Even to the average person, the odds of an underwater showdown between China and Taiwan seem unbalanced.

China's submarine fleet: 66 by 2020, expected to reach 76 by 2030.

Attribute: Nearly silent next generation technology.

Taiwanese submarine force: 4 ships.

Attributes: Her two submarines, the oldest in operation in the world, all use her 20th century technology.

Experts sayGiven China's investment in advanced weapons and equipment, Taiwan lacks the ability to fend off China unless it upgrades its military equipment. I am worried that Modernize the army with a view to the war in Ukraine. China's defense budget for 2022 is her $230 billion, second only to the United States in the world. By contrast, Taiwan's defense budget is her $12.8 billion, 5% of China's.

The Royal Navy's official newspaper, Naval News, reported on 11 August that China's East Sea Fleet, operating around Taiwan acquired a new submarine that represents the "state of the art" in non-nuclear submarines.

This boat, often referred to as the Type 039, was positioned to face the Taiwan Navy directly. "The East Sea Fleet's submarine base is located about 500 km north and south of the main island of Taiwan. It will also face off against the Japanese archipelago," naval news reported, adding that the boats will be commissioned in 2021 and will enter service a little over a year later. A very short timeline for a new class of submarines. told VOA Mandarin that the Type 039 cannot be ignored. , good for launching missiles in an invasion," he said. "So submarines are a very important weapons platform."

Michal Thim, a research fellow at the Society for International Affairs in Prague who focuses on Taiwan's defense policy, told VOA Mandarin in an email. It said it was impossible to confirm whether China's newest submarine was deployed near Taiwan.

“The deployment and movement of submarines is one of the best-kept secrets of any navy. is growing at a speed," he said.

Hormuz Liao, a former adjunct lecturer at Taiwan's War College, said Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense had never publicly disclosed Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) submarine activity near Taiwan. Rarely, he said.

“Given that PLA Navy fighters have intruded into Taiwanese airspace and surface combatants are threatening near the 12 nautical mile territorial line, PLA submarines have It is very likely that it was operating near or in the waters of ," he wrote in an email. to VOA Mandarin.

Liao said his new PLAN submarines are said to be very quiet and pose a significant threat even to the US Navy's surface assets.

As an example, Liao said like this. During the exercise, Gotland fired multiple torpedoes, but was never spotted by US anti-submarine warfare forces. This episode shows how advanced submarines can seriously threaten valuable surface combatants.

The focus of the two submarine fleets comes at a time of heightened tensions between the autonomous island of Taiwan and China, which views Taiwan as its own territory.

Taiwan's Ministry of Defense announced on Friday that it had spotted17 Chinese aircraft and six Chinese warships, eight of which were flying over the center line of the Taiwan Strait. rice field. and Taiwan.

The Chinese military stepped up its tactics earlier this month following his Aug. 2 visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This week we are conducting daily drills in response to a surprise visit by another US congressional delegation. Sources told Reuters that Chinese naval vessels are operating on both the east and west coasts of Taiwan.

Taiwan's Vintage Submarines

According to a report released earlier this year by the Congressional Research Service, China is steadily modernizing its submarines.

By contrast, Taiwan has four boats. Two of her are vintage WWII ex-U.S. Naval Fleet submarines, the oldest operational submarines in the world.

Former submarine engineer Richard Stern, who served in the US Navy, said he was unsure if these two ships of his were still capable of firing weapons. “Today, Taiwan has four of his old boats using mid-century technology,” he told VOA his Mandarin.

Her two remaining ships are combat ships that Taiwan acquired in her late 1980s, Tim said. Although all of them have undergone significant upgrades, they are "hardly a deterrent" to China.

“Of course, China now has about 60 conventional submarines, and they can use them in various ways to make life on Taiwan difficult. conduct, attack surface combatants, and hunt Taiwanese submarines," he said.

Taiwan is trying to build its own submarines, but China has repeatedly blocked other countries from participating in Taiwan's submarine building projects. A manufacturer of who secretly helped Taiwan upgrade its own advanced diesel-electric submarines

Tim said that the United States would transfer both expertise and critical technology to Taiwan. "There is definitely room for improvement. Deepening Japan's involvement in building superior submarines is one area that could be improved," he said.

Liao argued that Taiwan should focus on cheaper and more effective defense weapons. , said that it can specifically hear submarines and can identify the coordinates and depth of penetration. ' he added.