China is developing systems to hunt US submarines from the air

China is developing systems to hunt US submarines from the air

China is developing systems to hunt US submarines from the air that could threaten its ability to project power, particularly in a potential invasion of Taiwan. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) views robust anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities as essential for safeguarding high value assets like aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships during maritime operations.

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Pursuing Technological Innovations

The PLAN is pursuing a range of innovations to enhance its ASW capabilities. This includes improving magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) systems with highly sensitive atomic magnetometers that can detect not only the presence but also the direction of a submarine’s magnetic field. Chinese firms have also filed patents for new systems to more efficiently configure and deploy sonobuoys, which are used to detect underwater sounds from submarines.

Enhancing Training and Integration

In addition to technological advances, China is enhancing training for its ASW forces. The PLAN is using simulators to train sensor and weapon operators, and conducting integrated exercises that involve assimilating data from various sources to confirm potential submarine targets. This aims to provide more realistic scenarios and improve coordination between different ASW platforms.

A key driver behind China’s ASW push is the need to protect its ballistic missile submarine fleet, which is crucial for its at-sea nuclear deterrent. Robust ASW capabilities would also be vital for safeguarding other high-value assets, such as aircraft carriers and amphibious landing groups, during potential contingencies like an invasion of Taiwan.

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