PLAN ASW Capability


Hendrik_2000

Lieutenant General
They were successful because U-boots were virtually immobile while submerged, and has only one pitiful 88mm plus 1 or 2 20mm auto cannons and negligible reserve bouyant while surfaced. So the Uboat can barely hide, can’t run away, and can’t fight even a 700 ton pursuer derived from a whale catcher design.

those relative attributes do not apply to nuclear submarines that type 056 will most likely face.
What attribute you mean using Cruise missile to attack? but type 56 has Yu 8 ASROC too
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Tam

Brigadier
Registered Member
An 052-ASW is plausible, though a clean-sheet design may ultimately be preferred. Compared to 052D, I would delete the aft VLS and cut back the AAW fit to frigate or "frigate plus" levels, i.e. no Type 346 or HQ-9. More of my thoughts on a "large ASW frigate" and how it would fit into the inventory in cost/capability/doctrine terms can be found in the discussion beginning here.

The pair of vintage 052 are practically ASW frigates by now. One of them was last seen in the SCS doing ASW drills, despite being North Sea based.

Despite their age, the bow sonar, the TAS and the VDS have all been retrofitted to the current standard. It also has the advantage of having gas turbines and two helicopters.

With the size bar for modern frigates infringing past the 6000-7000 ton territory, a 052X sized frigate won't be out of place.

I would expect 052B refits to add the VDS, although it does not appear that the hangers will be dual.

Cutting back the AAW suite to "frigate" levels means going back from HHQ-9 to HHQ-16 base. That means reverting to a modernized 052B. AJK-16 VLS means access to YU-8 ASROCs and the YJ-83 slant canister layout means access to the YU-11 ASROC. I think its possible the VLS can be extended to 48 which can make more YU-8 available, and with 16 slant canisters means plenty of YU-11. The ship is essentially a 054A with gas turbines and steroids.

Brand new dedicated ASW 052X "frigates" might be a dream for now, although I do think the 052B refits will bring the two ships to the current ASW standard.
 
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Bltizo

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Staff member
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A little OT, but sometimes I think people are making arguments based too much on theoreticals and how western navies operate without fully considering the realities and likely operating areas where a PLAN task force might realistically engage in direct combat against a peer adversary.

Yes, 056As are not your classic modern blue water warship (although destroyers smaller were the workhorses of both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres during WWII), but where exactly does people think the PLAN would be fighting?

Probably for the next generation, the PLAN would not hold any delusions about their ability to go toe-to-toe with the USN far from home and win. Nor are there compelling reasons for China to go to war with America beyond its immediate home waters around Taiwan and the SCS.

It is because of these limited ambitions that the PLAN has chosen to make the 056A is primary ASW workhorse, and they will form the backbone of any PLAN fleets AWS surface element in any remotely realistic major conflict scenarios for the next two decades or more.

The lack of a full on hanger on the 056 would be an issue if they were meant to operate independently in an ASW role, but there would be only extremely unlikely and strategically irrelevant scenarios for that to happen. In most normal instances, they will operate as part of a much larger task group, and used as sonar screens as well as FOBs for ASW helicopters from the core fleet principle surface combatants. This intention can be easily seen from the large garage doors built into the aft superstructure, which would make perfect sense for refuelling and re-arming friendly ASW helicopters to extend both their operating range and endurance while minimising off-mission transit time to and from ships.

The existence of the huge 056A fleet could also be a reason why the PLAN is in no great hurry to retrofit all their 054A FFGs with the latest and greatest ASW hardware available.

When operating in such a role, it would make perfect sense for an 055 to act as the command ship for the 056A fleet elements due to its massive C&C capabilities.

The PLAN has a requirement to be capable of performing and concentrating robust multi-domain ASW capabilities in its peripheries, yes.
But that does not mean that they can let its blue water capable ships anything short of a robust and competitive organic ASW capability either.

There are indeed a large number of 056As -- 50 056As have been built before production ended for the PLAN.

However, the PLAN's fleet of blue water capable ships equipped with the same twin tail ASW suite (TAS+VDS) that has been put in the water is actually going to be greater in number than the 056As they've built.

Current blue water capable ships that include the TAS+VDS suite includes: 8x 055s, 25x 052Ds, 14x 054As -- 47 ships.
That doesn't include 2x recently launched new flight 054As for the PLAN, of 20 newly ordered 054As... nor does it include an order of 055s and 052Ds that we have heard rumours of, and whose further production is virtually guaranteed as part of the 14th five year plan.
And this doesn't include the 054B/next generation frigate either, which we expect to emerge in the near future, which will feature a towed ASW suite that is at least equal to that of 055/052D/054A hull 17 onwards/056A.
And we don't have any further rumours or indications of continued 056A production.

That is to say, the 056A is not the PLANs "primary ASW workhorse".

Rather, than 056A is the PLANs "primary short range, short endurance ASW workhorse". The 056As are incapable of operating beyond the first island chain, and are also incapable of operating at sea for long durations even within the first island chain.

However, the PLAN's blue water capable ships like 055, 052D, 054A (and future 054B), are not only blue water capable and able to operate outside the first island chain, but are also capable of operating within the first island chain for long durations -- much longer durations than the smaller 056A is, and these blue water capable ships are of course also multirole featuring much more powerful other sensors and weapons.


All of these ships, in their ASW role, are complementary to one another, and when operating closer to shore, they are also complementary with land based ASW capabilities (like fixed wing ASW MPAs).

Practically speaking, there's no reason why an 055 cannot act as overwatch for a surface action group of surface combatants that also include a large number of 056As.
 

Bltizo

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Type 056/A and the frigates and destroyers are two fleets belonging to a single navy. Their tasks overlap but they do not operate according to the same rules. They may exercise together but we won't see modern frigates and destroyers operate with coastal corvettes in situations other than transit between bases. It is logistically too problematic. In every task force the slowest/weakest ship determines the threshold of maneuver and whatever your impression about modern naval warfare on a tactical level naval maneuver is still the foundation of all strategy and operational art. There's barely a place for a 056A among 054As let alone anything bigger.

Type 056 are coastal vessels so they will be coordinated from the land unless in aforementioned overseas deployment scenario. They simply don't have the range or seaworthiness to ever need a ship like 055 to protect and command them.

The current rumored shipbuilding plan (16x 055, 51x 052C/D, 50x 054A + older destroyers) fits a self-contained sea-going fleet rather than one organically working with coastal vessels. The best argument is to compare the future USN fleet proposals from Hudson Institute. If 056s were an inherent part of the main fleet then the ships would be built in different proportions - more of largest and smallest ships. But they are built exactly how you build two parallel self-sufficient navies - one seagoing and one coastal. One operating with air support from land, and one operating around air support from CVs and LHDs.

I agree that the PLAN's surface combatant procurement in the framework of a "seagoing navy" and "coastal navy".

But in practice, depending on the calibre of the enemy, the availability of one's land based air power, the nature of a conflict, it is very very realistic to come up with scenarios whereby ships of the "coastal navy" operating within the first island chain are complemented by more capable blue water ships of the "seagoing navy".

For example, in the SCS, I could easily see multiple small groups of 3-4 056As operating in packs across hundreds of kms, all of which include an 054A operating as localized medium range air defense (while lending its own ASW suite and its greater firepower and heft for the defense of the nearby 056As), while a larger group consisting of an 055 and a couple of 052Ds operate at an equal distance to the various 056A/054A groups as overwatch and as a bastion of theater anti surface capability and airspace monitoring and long range air defense, while land based airpower such as an AEW&C, a handful of ASW MPA, and a few multirole fighter CAP, provide supporting fixed wing support, all mutually supporting each other and networked together as much as practically possible.
For such a force, the naval commander of the battlespace would most logically reside on the 055.
 

5unrise

New Member
Registered Member

Aaron Amick, who runs the youtube channel Sub Brief, suggests that China's best ASW platform is the Type 39C SSK (he typo in the title as 093C, but definitely isn't referring to some secret variant of the Shang SSN). He also seem to have a high opinion of the Song SSK. According to him, it's the combination of a silent electric motor and the long underwater endurance (for SSK) that makes the Type 39C effective. French-designed sonars are also quite good.
What's interesting is that he thinks it's quite possible that it already has lithium ion battery operational on the sub (the battery itself is nothing spectacular, but it's the technology to use it on a sub safely that countries are struggling with).
 

Tam

Brigadier
Registered Member

Aaron Amick, who runs the youtube channel Sub Brief, suggests that China's best ASW platform is the Type 39C SSK (he typo in the title as 093C, but definitely isn't referring to some secret variant of the Shang SSN). He also seem to have a high opinion of the Song SSK. According to him, it's the combination of a silent electric motor and the long underwater endurance (for SSK) that makes the Type 39C effective. French-designed sonars are also quite good.
What's interesting is that he thinks it's quite possible that it already has lithium ion battery operational on the sub (the battery itself is nothing spectacular, but it's the technology to use it on a sub safely that countries are struggling with).

Should note that he specifically points out that his choice is subjective. At least he has that carefulness to know that he is not quite up to par with his knowledge on the PLAN. As for what is my own highly subjective opinion, I think its the Type 054A or the Type 056A operating in packs.

While the French designed sonars are good, at some point however, they may have been replaced or at least the ones on the Yuan are not the same as on the Song. The Yuan sonars are likely to be indigenously designed, with inspiration from the MGK-400 sonar from the Kilo, which is very good and from the French sonars. The Chinese would have gotten the MGK-400EM from the Kilo 636s they bought, and they would have been studying the MGK-400 since they bought the Kilo 877s from the late 90s. IMO the MGK-400 Rubikon is one impressive kit, and something copied/inspired from this would be a better fit on the spherical bow of the Yuan.

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Tam

Brigadier
Registered Member
Going to add to that, the bow sonar on the Song is going to be smaller than the Yuan due to the shape of the bow.

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The Song has three flank sonars while the Yuan has this long linear sonar along the bottom. So there's no way the Yuan has the Song's sonars even if the latter is allegedly French inspired and is said to be good. If the Song's sonars is inspired from the French, it would have to be from the Agosta submarine.

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The Agosta does not have this long linear sonar on the bottom, and neither does the Kilo.

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This long linear line is similar to the Type 212, but not likely to have any German input.

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A similar line appears on the Scorpene but not likely to have any French input either.

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My guess is that this is a low frequency long range passive sonar.
 
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