Over the past two decades, the People’s Republic of China has made great advances in its military capabilities. However, it still lags woefully behind in developing nuclear-powered submarines. The problem for the Chinese is that they lack the necessary quieting and propulsion technologies to build anything remotely comparable to an American or Russian nuclear submarine.
Even the newest Chinese Jin-class ballistic nuclear missile submarines and improved Shang-class nuclear attack submarines are louder than 1970s-era Soviet-built Victor III-class attack submarine or the Delta III-class boomer, according to the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence.
In fact, even China’s forthcoming Type 95 will be louder than the Soviet Union’s Project 971 Shchuka-B-class submarines — better know by its NATO reporting name Akula I. Nor is it likely that the Type 96 nuclear-power ballistic missile submarine will be any better. Chinese diesel submarines are, of course, another matter entirely.
But why are the Chinese lagging behind in nuclear submarines when they seem to be advancing in leaps and bounds in almost every other field?