Sunday, December 30, 2012

Russia Sells China 4 Lada-class SSKs

After selling 48 advanced Su-35 fighters to China, Russia will sell four Lada class submarines to the PLA under the direct order of President Vladimir Putin, according to Moscow-based newspaper Kommersant on Dec. 20.
The Lada class is an improved version of the Kilo class diesel-electric submarine, equipped with an advanced combat system and running much more quietly than its predecessor. Suggesting that the total price of the four submarines will be US$2 billion, Kommersant said that the contract will be signed by 2015. This means that the PLA Navy would operate the submarines earlier than India and Venezuela. A spokesperson for Rosoboronexport, Russia's major weapon exporter, confirmed the report on Dec. 23.
Source within the Russian military said Moscow will not only sell the four submarines to China but also transfer their technology. Equipped with air-independent propulsion, the Lada class is able to operate beneath the surface for a longer period of time than other similar subs. Since it is quieter, it may also prove a perfect option for the PLA Navy to counter US carrier strike groups.... (Emphasis is mine)
A couple interesting things jump out at me. 

1. China got the Su-35? There have been more rumors about a purchase lately, but nothing truly confirmed, but disturbing if true. 

2. Putin ordered this? I know Russia is hard-up for hard cash, but why would the Russkies sell 4 top notch SSKs to a potential enemy?

3. Transfer of technology. Biggest part of the story, assuming the story is accurate. China is still behind the U.S. in terms of quieting tech for subs, and those could be a big jump in quieting their current SSKs, and maybe future SSNs. To date PRC SSNs have been infamous for the amount of noise they generate (they are comparable to '50s Soviet SSNs), making them easy for U.S. sub hunters to track. 

Overall, an extremely worrying development, as China is building up her SSK fleet at a dizzying rate, and could easily raise hell with her massive numbers of subs. Not mention U.S. sub hunting skills have been on the decline since the collapse of the USSR, and sequestration isn't helping things either. Time to get on the ball, buy more P-8s and develop a new class of DDs for sub hunting (think Spraunce-class). 

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