09V/09VI (095/096) Nuclear Submarine Thread


Blitzo

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I get your arguments but consider:
First, I want to clarify something.

In your reply, you seem to be under the impression that my suggestion for SSN-Gs with VLS capacity for missiles is only LACMs, which you interpret as subsonic LACMs only.

However, what I wrote in reply #923 was "each VLS able to carry either a LACM, AShM or YJ-21 pattern AShBM/HGV."
That is to say, I expect each VLS to be able to carry any sort of anti-surface/land attack/anti-ship weapon that the PLAN's UVLS is capable of accommodating, but launched from a submarine.
This should be entirely expected, given that submarines like Yasen class are able to carry the subsonic Kalibr LACM, but also Onyx supersonic AShM, and intended to carry the Tsirkon hypersonic airbreathing AShM.
Even the Virginia class with VPM will be capable of swapping out 7 Tomahawks for 3 larger LRHW hypersonic HGVs.

So, for my proposal for the SSN-G VLS, each tube is able to carry: the most basic subsonic LACM yes, but it also includes:
- AShMs: including standard YJ-18, but also future supersonic and/or hypersonic AShMs, and/or stealthy subsonic AShMs
- LACMs: including future supersonic and/or hypersonic LACMs, and/or stealthy subsonic LACMs
- AShBMs/IRBM/HGVs: this includes the new "YJ-21" and future weapons sized for it.

I'll refer back to this multiple times in my reply, as the "payload variety clarification"

  • The benefits of multi-axis attack are diminished in the age of AESA radars and ARH interceptor missiles as radar refresh rate cannot be exploited.

The benefits of multi-axis attack compared to single axis attack remain, despite modern AESA and ARH missiles, see second to last part of this post about defending Guam from multi-axis attacks.



  • Closeness to target does not translate to shortness of warning time. A 0.7 Mach cruise missile takes around 750 seconds to travel 100 nm/180 km. An IRBM (DF-26) takes about 770s to travel 3000km (Shanghai to Guam) (From
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    time(s)=sqrt(range(km))*14). Shorter if fired on depressed trajectory.

See above about payload variety clarification.

Comparing a land launched DF-26 with a SSN launched subsonic LACM is a ridiculous one -- a fairer comparison would be land launched DF-26 with a SSN launched YJ-21 AShBM/HGV.
Or alternatively, comparing a land launched long range subsonic LACM versus a SSN launched subsonic LACM.


  • The value of a first strike diminishes in a sustained conflict, whereas the value of sustained affordable firepower increases.

The ability to deliver sustained fire is of course important, however sustained fire has to be economical, sustainable and requires the initial first wave strikes to have degraded the enemy's defenses.
That requires your initial first wave strikes to be able to kick down the door as much as you can, to enable follow on strikes to in turn enable sustained strikes.


  • Since we should expect substantial US repair capacity for basic infrastructures like runways, a strike should seek to target high value non-repairable assets, such as radars and fighters. However, a submarine’s poor ISR capability relative to bombers make sub launched missiles worse in this task. For example, bombers could use its EW suite to identify radar sites, or fire cruise missiles with man-in-the-loop terminal guidance.

For first wave strikes, the goal is to try to do as much damage for as long as possible against the most efficient targets to enable follow on strikes.
That includes fixed targets such as parts of the runway, fuel and ammo depot, air control tower, whose fixed coordinates are already known. Satellite guidance is fine for that.
However, missiles will also have terminal sensors for discriminating certain targets, which doesn't require ISR mid course or terminal guidance.
Fire and forget EO terminal guidance with onboard target selection (a mature capability already even today) will enable certain high value aircraft, or radars, or other platforms to be targeted by the missile itself.
Fire and forget active radar or passive radar or anti-radiation seekers can enable radars to be targeted as well.
The above will all be part of a first wave strike, which the SSN-Gs will partly contribute to, alongside land based long range strike systems (bombers, IRBMs, HGVs) and surface naval strike systems (carrier strike, surface combatant UVLS launched weapons).

Follow on strikes would seek to deliver more sustained fire by taking advantage of the initial degradation (ideally crippling) of a base's air sortie generation capability and degradation of their air defense capability. Bombers will take up much of this role.
But someone has to kick in the door first, which requires a much wider array of fires to disorient and saturate the enemy.

continued below
 

Blitzo

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continued from above




  • Cruises missiles fired from submarine in your CONOP does not seem to be compatible with EW support, certainly if you intend to fire them off the main axis.

See payload variety clarification above.
Also, the EW support would be primarily coming from the main axis, while the first wave strike will be multiaxis (SSN-Gs from the north/east/south, with land based strikes and surface naval strikes from the west/main axis. The EW support will be coming form the west/main axis)


  • The USAF is practicing the
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    (ACE), where assets are dispersed over dozens or hundreds of smaller bases, precisely to withstand a first wave attack. This further stresses the needs for high volume of weapons and sustained firepower.
  • Bombers are substantially more flexible in terms of payload. Other than Tomahawk-like cruise missiles, possible payloads include NSM/SLAM-ER/KD-88 sized cruise missiles that could double the missile count, HARMs, loitering munitions, submunition dispensers, and glide bombs. A Mach 3-4 class precision ground attack weapon could be the standard high end air to ground weapon of the future.

On the matter of sustained firepower -- nowhere did I suggest that sustained firepower was unimportant.

I've consistently written that my CONOPS is for contributing to the initial first wave strikes.
The importance of initial first wave strikes is that it enables larger hubs of land based facilities to be targeted, which can enable follow on strikes/sustained firepower strikes.
It goes without saying that sustained firepower strikes will be conducted by long range bombers, surface naval forces (including carrier aviation), and long range land based strike missiles, in that order of scale.

ACE will assist the US in mitigating the effects of PLA strikes in general, however large hubs such as Guam will remain lynchpins of enabling US ACE efforts. Putting it another way -- if large hubs like Guam remain up and running, US ACE efforts will be far more successful and far easier to conduct, than if Guam was significantly degraded or neutralized.


View attachment 88563
Something like this cannot be fired from subs.

Yes they can. See payload variety clarification.


This depends on how you define “the same thing.” Certainly if it is simply 24hr continuous forward deployed missile count, you could argue that subs are better. However, I would suggest a more appropriate measure to be damage dealt to targets, in which case the bombers’ sustained firepower is unparalleled.

The whole premise of my argument is that continuous forward deployed missile count enables more successful first wave strike capability, and that a more successful first wave strike capability enables more successful repeat strikes/sustained firepower.

Bombers are obviously far superior to SSN-Gs for repeat strikes/sustained firepower, which is why I never suggested SSN-Gs should be used for repeat strikes/sustained firepower.


Can you clarify what sort of war scenario would the submarines' ability to launch its weapons instantaneously be so preferable to a bomber's ability to launch weapons in 5 hours?

It's not only about launching weapons instantaneously, it's about launching weapons in a manner where your launch platform is already very close to the target, thus reducing the opfor's early warning time/capacity, as well as reducing the opfor's ability to defend against your strike by targeting the missile or aircraft that you launched.

I explained it in post #960:

"Think about Guam's defenses as a multilayered onion that has to be peeled through to get to the core.

The outermost layer, in the 1st island chain, are US assets in the first island chain. Land based BMD radar and BMD batteries, land based fighters with AEW&C, and even naval ships with BMD capability.
The middle layer is between the 1st and 2nd island chain, composed of carriers, naval ships with BMD, and perhaps small islands with forward deployed smaller BMD radars and BMD batteries.
The final layer is in the 2nd island chain, including Guam and smaller islands that have their own land based comprehensive BMD and land based airbases with fighters and AEW&C, as well as escorting naval ships with BMD, perhaps carriers as well.

All of those layers will seek to track PLA land based missile and aircraft attacks launched towards Guam, as well as seek to shoot them down and thin them down as much as possible before they reach Guam. In other words, PLA attacks from land will have to go through three layers of defense, because at the commencement of hostilities, those land based weapons are naturally not forward deployed close to Guam.

Now, for SSNs with VLS, if they are routinely deployed close to Guam in the 2nd island chain, they are able to bypass basically the outermost layer and middle layer of defenses, straight to the final layer of defenses -- or perhaps even get within the final layer of defenses! That is in addition to the fact that they can attack from other directions where the outermost and middle layers of defenses are either weak or absolutely nonexistent by virtue of the geography of the middle pacific.
That is why the importance of having routine forward deployment close to potential targets is important.


As I wrote before, yes the PLA can try to conduct offensive strikes against the outermost and middle layers of defense that the US has, to weaken them to enable a strike with greater chances of success against Guam. And I expect the PLA to do so.
But that will require time and materiel, and even then I believe the likelihood of success will remain greatly enhanced when a large fraction of the first strike is delivered by a number of SSN-Gs that are already prepositioned and operational close to the target.
"



I disagree with this for two reasons. First, given what the US is already doing/already have, defending against multi-axis missile attacks requires fewer additional resources than defending against the diversity of weapons that can be launched from bombers. Cruise missile defense is most ideally performed using AWACS like the E-2 and E-7 that the US is already purchasing and air to air missiles launched from fighters that the US already have. Whereas stealth missile, loitering munitions, smart bombs, HARMs, medium range supersonic air to surface missiles and air launched decoys which can be fired in any combination thereof pose much greater challenges to air defenses.

See payload variety clarification.

Thus, Guam and the second island chain, will not only have to perform multi-axis cruise missile defense -- they will have to perform multi-axis cruise missile and VLO cruise missile defense and BMD and HGV defense.
That will spread their defenses and resources far more thin than if they only had to deal with land based and surface naval strike systems from the west/main axis, increasing the likelihood of a successful first wave strike, as well as reducing their ability to conduct more offensive operations closer to the first island chain.
A more successful first wave strike will enable more effective follow on strikes and sustained fires.

An less successful first wave strike means your follow on strikes and sustained fires will be much less effective.


Second, the US' most capable and numerous air and missile defense system is its Arleigh-Burke destroyers and eventually DDG(X), which would be threatened by SSNs with or without cruise missiles. So there will be immense pressure on ASW missions regardless. If anything, SSNs would achieve a greater level of air and mission defense degradation and resource division if they spend their time stalking US DDGs instead of being prepositioned off Guam, as this would compel US destroyers to operate only in groups and within ASW protection bubbles.

Your SSN-Gs will be capable of doing that mission of posing a threat to US surface forces as well, simply due to the mere presence of SSNs.

Additionally, as I wrote in post #927, the money spent on SSN-Gs is already mostly paid for.
Remember, the PLAN will need 60 competitive SSNs going into future decades anyway, and they will be deployed extensively in the deep waters of the second island chain and pacific. The entire "standard SSN" and its mission profile would already paid for.
All I am proposing is a lengthened hull plug additional VLS tubes, for 3/4 of the overall fleet of SSNs.

There is really no reason to not procure a large fleet of SSNs with enhanced VLS capacity, given you're already paying for the rest of the submarine.
 

SEAD

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continued from above






See payload variety clarification above.
Also, the EW support would be primarily coming from the main axis, while the first wave strike will be multiaxis (SSN-Gs from the north/east/south, with land based strikes and surface naval strikes from the west/main axis. The EW support will be coming form the west/main axis)





On the matter of sustained firepower -- nowhere did I suggest that sustained firepower was unimportant.

I've consistently written that my CONOPS is for contributing to the initial first wave strikes.
The importance of initial first wave strikes is that it enables larger hubs of land based facilities to be targeted, which can enable follow on strikes/sustained firepower strikes.
It goes without saying that sustained firepower strikes will be conducted by long range bombers, surface naval forces (including carrier aviation), and long range land based strike missiles, in that order of scale.

ACE will assist the US in mitigating the effects of PLA strikes in general, however large hubs such as Guam will remain lynchpins of enabling US ACE efforts. Putting it another way -- if large hubs like Guam remain up and running, US ACE efforts will be far more successful and far easier to conduct, than if Guam was significantly degraded or neutralized.




Yes they can. See payload variety clarification.




The whole premise of my argument is that continuous forward deployed missile count enables more successful first wave strike capability, and that a more successful first wave strike capability enables more successful repeat strikes/sustained firepower.

Bombers are obviously far superior to SSN-Gs for repeat strikes/sustained firepower, which is why I never suggested SSN-Gs should be used for repeat strikes/sustained firepower.




It's not only about launching weapons instantaneously, it's about launching weapons in a manner where your launch platform is already very close to the target, thus reducing the opfor's early warning time/capacity, as well as reducing the opfor's ability to defend against your strike by targeting the missile or aircraft that you launched.

I explained it in post #960:

"Think about Guam's defenses as a multilayered onion that has to be peeled through to get to the core.

The outermost layer, in the 1st island chain, are US assets in the first island chain. Land based BMD radar and BMD batteries, land based fighters with AEW&C, and even naval ships with BMD capability.
The middle layer is between the 1st and 2nd island chain, composed of carriers, naval ships with BMD, and perhaps small islands with forward deployed smaller BMD radars and BMD batteries.
The final layer is in the 2nd island chain, including Guam and smaller islands that have their own land based comprehensive BMD and land based airbases with fighters and AEW&C, as well as escorting naval ships with BMD, perhaps carriers as well.

All of those layers will seek to track PLA land based missile and aircraft attacks launched towards Guam, as well as seek to shoot them down and thin them down as much as possible before they reach Guam. In other words, PLA attacks from land will have to go through three layers of defense, because at the commencement of hostilities, those land based weapons are naturally not forward deployed close to Guam.

Now, for SSNs with VLS, if they are routinely deployed close to Guam in the 2nd island chain, they are able to bypass basically the outermost layer and middle layer of defenses, straight to the final layer of defenses -- or perhaps even get within the final layer of defenses! That is in addition to the fact that they can attack from other directions where the outermost and middle layers of defenses are either weak or absolutely nonexistent by virtue of the geography of the middle pacific.
That is why the importance of having routine forward deployment close to potential targets is important.


As I wrote before, yes the PLA can try to conduct offensive strikes against the outermost and middle layers of defense that the US has, to weaken them to enable a strike with greater chances of success against Guam. And I expect the PLA to do so.
But that will require time and materiel, and even then I believe the likelihood of success will remain greatly enhanced when a large fraction of the first strike is delivered by a number of SSN-Gs that are already prepositioned and operational close to the target.
"





See payload variety clarification.

Thus, Guam and the second island chain, will not only have to perform multi-axis cruise missile defense -- they will have to perform multi-axis cruise missile and VLO cruise missile defense and BMD and HGV defense.
That will spread their defenses and resources far more thin than if they only had to deal with land based and surface naval strike systems from the west/main axis, increasing the likelihood of a successful first wave strike, as well as reducing their ability to conduct more offensive operations closer to the first island chain.
A more successful first wave strike will enable more effective follow on strikes and sustained fires.

An less successful first wave strike means your follow on strikes and sustained fires will be much less effective.




Your SSN-Gs will be capable of doing that mission of posing a threat to US surface forces as well, simply due to the mere presence of SSNs.

Additionally, as I wrote in post #927, the money spent on SSN-Gs is already mostly paid for.
Remember, the PLAN will need 60 competitive SSNs going into future decades anyway, and they will be deployed extensively in the deep waters of the second island chain and pacific. The entire "standard SSN" and its mission profile would already paid for.
All I am proposing is a lengthened hull plug additional VLS tubes, for 3/4 of the overall fleet of SSNs.

There is really no reason to not procure a large fleet of SSNs with enhanced VLS capacity, given you're already paying for the rest of the submarine.
Considering you have only 480 missiles and any reloading may take a month, you’d better focus them on tasks that cannot be completed by other platforms. Namely ships behind 2nd island chain, perhaps San Diego etc. it’s a waste to shoot them to Guam just because you have other choices, no matter good or bad.
 

Blitzo

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Considering you have only 480 missiles and any reloading may take a month, you’d better focus them on tasks that cannot be done by other platforms. Namely ships behind 2nd island chain, perhaps San Diego etc.

Degrading the ability of US facilities beyond the second island chain won't matter if facilities on Guam and the second island chain are not sufficiently degraded to allow sustained firepower strikes and to defeat US forces in Westpac overall in a timely manner.

If those 480 SSN-G missiles were not so important to greatly increase the likelihood of successfully knocking out Guam and enabling sustained strikes in the 2nd island chain, then sure, why not use those submarines for striking other targets beyond?
But I don't think the PLA can afford that luxury until after 2035 if not 2040.

I do understand why striking CONTUS bases and supply chains are attractive and important -- but that is only vital if you believe you can have the ability to begin to wage a war of attrition in the first place.
For the PLA, waging a war of attrition is only viable if they are able to smash the deployed US forces in the western Pacific.


I think having a variety of axes of attack is not really required.

Guam is a small island with literally a single naval base and a single airbase.
It means that any deployed medium/long-range air defence systems will be able to cover all the potential axes of attack, which includes land-attack missiles launched from different direction from SSN VLS tubes.

So that just leaves a requirement for permanent/round the clock deployment of large numbers of munitions able to reach the 2nd Island Chain.

I'm aware of the physical size of Guam.
However, the resources expenses to enable it to defend from a multiaxis attack against a variety of attack profiles (LACM, AShBM, HGV, VLO LACM) that the threat of SSN-Gs can pose, is still very significant, and prevents the opfor from concentrating resources towards one axis of attack, and instead forces dilution/additional expenditure of resources.




I don't see interception of hypersonic weapons as being practical, even if they are detected and tracked from launch with some 15-20 minutes of warning time.

A DF-26 has a re-entry speed in excess of Mach 10 which will be very difficult (impossible?) for THAAD to hit, particularly since the DF-26 re-entry vehicle will also be manoeuvring. And even if it is hit, a payload of tungsten ball bearings will still continue on roughly the same trajectory and speed towards the base. A similar rationale applies to DF-17 glide vehicles and other hypersonic missiles.

So hypersonic weapons bypass the inner and middle layer of defences, which forces the defenders to defend with very expensive SAM systems which cost more than the attacking missiles.

In comparison, submarine launched VLS cruise missiles will definitely be tracked from launch and will be engaged by medium-range SAM systems and SHORADs. And even if you salvoed 480 JASSMs in one go, I expect many (most?) will be shot down.

And JASSMs are more expensive than defending SHORAD and medium-range SAMs.

I suppose this may be a result of our differing perception in the ability to defend against IRBMs and HGVs.

I believe such weapons very much can be defended against, and that to defeat those defenses requires a combination of mechanisms, including saturation and disorientation of defenses, which is enabled by reducing warning time to the enemy and by carrying out multi-axis attacks (as well as having a larger overall strike package).


---

So if I had a deployed fleet of 12 SSNs with 480 cruise missiles, I'd use them on targets beyond the 2nd Island Chain like Pearl Harbor, and leave Guam to the DF-26 and H-20

See my post to SEAD above.
 
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AndrewS

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Degrading the ability of US facilities beyond the second island chain won't matter if facilities on Guam and the second island chain are not sufficiently degraded to allow sustained firepower strikes and to defeat US forces in Westpac overall in a timely manner.

If those 480 SSN-G missiles were not so important to greatly increase the likelihood of successfully knocking out Guam and enabling sustained strikes in the 2nd island chain, then sure, why not use those submarines for striking other targets beyond?
But I don't think the PLA can afford that luxury until after 2035 if not 2040.

I do understand why striking CONTUS bases and supply chains are attractive and important -- but that is only vital if you believe you can have the ability to begin to wage a war of attrition in the first place.
For the PLA, waging a war of attrition is only viable if they are able to smash the deployed US forces in the western Pacific.

If we're talking about a situation where China has 60 modern SSNs, then we're looking at a 2035-2045 timeframe anyway.
By that time, I would expect China would have more than enough forces to smash the deployed US forces in the Western Pacific.

So China would be looking at winning a war of attrition in the Pacific, which means Pearl Harbor is a key target from Day 1.
 

ashnole

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The US Navy has clearly stated that their next generation SSN, which is to follow the future Block VI Virginia-class SSN, is going to have a large Seawolf-like design with a large horizontal weapons stowage (around 50 torpedoes as in the Seawolf-class) and no VLS of any kind. The SSN(X) will be designed specially for Cold War-like "in the the enemy's lair" open-ocean ASW and ASUW missions. They aren't even going to bother with the Strike Warfare mission, something that the post-Cold War "Peace Period" Virginias (especially Block V & the future Block VI) are meant to do.

Keeping that in mind, shouldn't the PLAN be looking at something like that in its future SSN instead of burdening the SSN with a Strike Warfare mission? Wouldn't designing a separate SSGN based on the future Type 09VI SSBN be a better move for the PLAN if Strike Warfare (against Guam, Midway, Pearl Harbour etc) is so crucial (which nobody disagrees IS CRUCIAL) a mission, leaving the fleet of future SSN fleet for what an SSN does best: find, hunt down and kill enemy SSNs and Surface Vessels?
 

weig2000

Captain
Yi Yazhou at guancha.cn talks about the new Chinese SSN from the satellite image. Not that he has any insider information, but he covers a lot of related topics that we've been discussing in this thread lately. These include VLS or no VLS, should China's target SSN be more like Virginia or Seawolf, missiles that such an SSN will carry, etc.

I'm in a hurry, but you're welcome to provide a more detailed summary for people who don't understand Chinese.

 

SEAD

Junior Member
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Yi Yazhou at guancha.cn talks about the new Chinese SSN from the satellite image. Not that he has any insider information, but he covers a lot of related topics that we've been discussing in this thread lately. These include VLS or no VLS, should China's target SSN be more like Virginia or Seawolf, missiles that such an SSN will carry, etc.

I'm in a hurry, but you're welcome to provide a more detailed summary for people who don't understand Chinese.

Xi Yazhou is not a reliable source, in general he knows as much as members of this forum, no more and no less.

For me torpedo is not an ideal weapon for ASuW just because of range. YJ-xx can easily reach 1000km away but torpedo is useless >100nm.
 
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SEAD

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Wouldn't designing a separate SSGN based on the future Type 09VI SSBN be a better move for the PLAN if Strike Warfare (against Guam, Midway, Pearl Harbour etc) is so crucial (which nobody disagrees IS CRUCIAL) a mission, leaving the fleet of future SSN fleet for what an SSN does best: find, hunt down and kill enemy SSNs and Surface Vessels?
For ASuW, if you have only torpedos you need to FOLLOW your targets when they are moving (perhaps at 30knots, a terrible speed for silencing or in an area with poor acoustic environment to hide) until the first wave of attack.

But if you have long-range missiles you can just patrol the area and wait for commands. That makes SSNs much more survivable and flexible.
 
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Andy1974

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Fascinating discussion about disabling Guam.

I think of Sun Tzu saying not to attack where the enemy is strong, but where they are weak, as well as the advice not to turn public option against you unnecessarily.

I think supply chain and even CONUS targets with minimal defenses could be prioritized from the beginning. This way all your expensive missiles can reach their targets are degrade/cripple the opponents ability to replace losses, regenerate, repair or sustain what they have.

If a first wave strike somehow crippled Virginia, B21, F35 and certain missile factories, it would be devastating to their ability to wage war, even if Guam was left unmolested. I must stress that I think this should, like all future Chinese operations against US forces, to make utmost efforts to preserve life, but especially serving US military personnel lives.

A first strike needs to consider and prepare for the opponents public reaction to it, because that could determine their next move.
 

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