Why doesn't The Republic of China have any submarines?

Discussion in 'Navy' started by Björn Larsson, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. Björn Larsson
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    Björn Larsson Just Hatched
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    Greetings all, this is my first post.

    To be correct, I learn that the RoC Navy has got two (2) diesel electric submarines built in the Netherlands in the 1980s. But why not a large fleet of modern submarines? Wouldn't that be an indispesible component in the defense of an island gainst an overwhelming invasion force with air and surface superiority? Also posing a threat to PRC's sea trade routes that could make a protracted sea war very costly. I've heard US military analysts say that they don't think much of PRC's anti sumbarine warfare capabilities.

    - Is it somehow explained by RoC's military doctrine?
    - Is it because noone is willing to export submarines to the RoC for diplomatic reasons?
    - Even if so, couldn't the RoC have developed domestic know how to build their own submarines?
     
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  2. antiterror13
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    antiterror13 Colonel

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    Google could be your best friend for such questions ;););)
     
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  3. Björn Larsson
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    Why couldn't they have started developing own submarines as soon as their economic growth took off 40 years ago or so? Wouldn't submarines be decisive? It's an island that is the fifth largest shipbuilding country in the world, and they have about 300,000 standing troops with modern weapons. But no subs! To me it looks like a fatal failure that for no reason ignored the by far single most important thing for them, making their entire military meaningless since the PRC now can ship in as many troops they want unopposed after a brief air war. What Taiwan leaders made the decision, say 1980 or 1990, that no subs will be developed? Has it been debated?
     
  4. Jura
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    Jura General

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  5. Björn Larsson
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    From last year! Why did the fifth, in some recent years the fourth, largest shipbuilder in the world not realize that it needs submarines a generation ago?
    So I wonder if there's a military doctrine that says that they can make do with coastal artillery instead, or something.
     
  6. Bltizo
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    1: no, RoC would obviously like to have submarines
    2: that is a contributory factor
    3: developing submarines is expensive and challenging and isn't something that can be done easily without outside established players helping. Look at Korea. Their shipbuilding industry is among the largest and most advanced in the world yet they're only their latest submarine can be considered truly indigenous whereas their previous two models produced had significant foreign input or were simply foreign designs.
     
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  7. taxiya
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    taxiya Major
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    Simple answers to the three questions:
    1. No. they always want subs.
    2. Yes. This is one of the two reasons.
    3. No. They couldn't. This is the other reason.

    More elaborated answer to 3:

    It is best to compare Taiwan and South Korean in terms of size of economy and technology potential. Both were together grouped as the "four Asian tigers" 40 years ago, Now let's look at South Korea. They operate Germany built subs for now. The began to build their own design of 3000t class just a year ago with heavy support from France, Spain and UK for various subsystem. SK was always more capable in ship building than Taiwan, but still SK only begin to develop their own design recently and lunched the first just 2 months ago WITH input from major western countries. Taiwan has no such chance. So forget about doing it within the island.
     
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  8. siegecrossbow
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    siegecrossbow Brigadier
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  9. AndrewS
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    Look at nightmare that Australia has faced with building their own submarines.
    Note that Australia has a similar population and GDP to Taiwan.

    Look at page 20 of the report below. The Taiwanese shipbuilding industry only accounted for 1-2% of the world total. It was only 18 ships per year.

    https://www.oecd.org/sti/ind/47500389.pdf

    Plus does it really matter how Taiwan got into the situation?

    Over the past 15 years, we can see Taiwan only spent 2% of GDP on the military, whereas a militarised USA and Russia averaged 4% in this timeframe.
    So it looks like Taiwan was free-riding on the back of the US military.
     
    #9 AndrewS, Nov 20, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2018
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  10. Tam
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    Building submarines is about experience, not about size of shipping industry. You need to start somewhere and take every step forward. Its when you want to skip the steps, that's when you look for foreign help (S. Korea, Australia). Should note that Australia is a very competent shipbuilder and leads the worlds in multihull (catamarans, trimarans) designs. Note that Iran and North Korea are building submarines, though midget size, and certainly not as advanced. But you got to cut your teeth somewhere.

    China built its first submarines in the fifties, far from the age where it has become a shipbuilding power. These were Soviet Whiskey class submarines, which in turn were heavily derived from Type XX! German U-boats. Then it was followed by the Romeo class, which in turn become indigenous as the Ming class, still carrying that German Type XX! heritage. Still far from being a major shipbuilding power, China already designed, built and commissioned its first nuclear submarine in the seventies.

    Taiwan is trying to do just that --- skip the history. They have done this process before --- made their indigenous jet fighter, supersonic antiship missile, their close in RAM equivalents, stealth corvette, and so on.

    In my opinion, its difficult for Taiwan to conduct unrestricted submarine warfare for various reasons. One reason is that in the last ten years, PLAN's antisubmarine capabilities have exploded, with ships not just equipped with hull sonars, but also with towed and variable depth sonars, to the point these ships tow not just one array but two simultaneously in parallel. I am not sure why but they do. Frigates and corvettes all pack the dual array systems like the destroyers. And China has a lot of corvettes and frigates.

    http://eng.chinamil.com.cn/view/2016-12/21/content_7416633.htm

    Another reason is that you cannot go afford to go toe to toe with China's submarine fleet as they already vastly outnumber Taiwan's and likely to be far better experienced. Yet another reason is China's improving aerial maritime surveillance which includes submarine detection, and the use of an extensive network of underwater sensors, which has been termed as the "Great Wall under the Sea".

    Even if Taiwan has the subs, going to war with them is another problem. How will a Taiwan sub be able to successfully identify a Chinese freighter underwater from let's say a Philippine, Korean, Japanese, Australian, or American flagged ship? The sea traffic around Taiwan are among the densest in the world --- conducting submarine warfare would be like conducting a shootout in a busy New York intersection. Missiles and torpedoes don't differentiate friend or foe--- they only see a target. Someone innocent is going to get into harm's way.

    In a protracted war, these submarines will have no base to go home to but their allies. Taiwan's bases would already be blown to bits by missile attacks and even taken over by special forces.
     

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