China's military is investing heavily in advanced submarines, including both ballistic and cruise missile firing vessels and attack subs.
Recently, Beijing showed off what appears to be a mock-up of its next-generation nuclear-powered attack submarine, according to veteran military analyst Rick Fisher.
"A large outdoor model of a next generation nuclear attack submarine [SSN] has appeared at the People's Liberation Army Navy [PLAN] submarine academy in Qingdao, China," Mr. Fisher stated in a report published by the International Assessment and Strategy Center, a think tank.
"The role of this model may simply be to inspire the academy's students, but it may signify a larger personnel investment by the PLAN to prepare for its next generation submarines, as it may also offer some indications about a new class of SSN," he said, referring to the military acronym for attack submarines
Photos of the model were first published in April during a Chinese naval conference, and Mr. Fisher said the Chinese have long used such photos of mock-up weapons as political messages for both domestic and foreign audiences.
The mock-up could be the first peek at China's Type-095 attack submarine — the second nuclear-powered attack submarine being built by the Chinese after its current Type-093.
In addition to the attack subs, the Chinese also are building two new ballistic missile submarines, the Type-094 and Type-096.
The Pentagon in its latest annual report on China's military said currently two Type-093s are deployed and four improved Type-093s will be fielded in the next five years.
However, Mr. Fisher said Asia military sources have indicated that in addition to the six Type-093s, two new Type-095s could be deployed by 2020.
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