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As various nations continue to contest boundaries in the South China Sea, Chinese naval technology has seen some new and alarmingly powerful weapons developments.
Territorial disputes over the South China Sea have amped up tensions amongst its six bordering nations and has coincided with an increasing sophistication of Chinese Naval weapons.
Because of China’s new military budget, which has been ramped up by 12.2 percent to 132 billion in 2014, the Chinese Navy has developed an array of both offensive and defensive missile systems, new submarines, and other new and improved military gadgets.
Below are some of China’s newest and most high tech naval weapons technologies.
Quite possibly one of China’s most jaw dropping technologies is one that is still in its theoretical–though developing–stage. These submarines reduce water friction by using both the process of supercavitation (which creates a gas bubble around the vehicle), and a special chemical membrane. Scientists believe they could develop a seacraft that in theory can travel up to 5,800km/h. To put it in perspective, a submarine travelling at such speeds would be able to traverse Shanghai to San Francisco (about 6,100 miles) in around 100 minutes.
Though much of this developing technology is still theoretical, Chinese scientists say they are already beginning to make headway on some of the initial obstacles.
Missile Defense Systems
In 2014 China has unveiled their new addition of the HQ-10 missile defense system. Using infrared and microwave technology, this missile system is capable of defending against low-altitude anti-ship missiles. Due to its compact size and its ability to be easily deployed, China’s Navy has implemented such defense systems on a range of different warships.
High Powered Gatling Guns
With a terrifying ten barrels, the Close In Weapons System (CIWS) now has China’s Navy equipped with one of the most powerful gatling gun systems in the world. This gatling gun is capable of firing a torrential 5,800 rounds per minute, and though the system was developed in the U.S., most American systems have only six barrels as opposed to ten.
China’s new class of warships, called the Type 052D destroyer, are bigger and equipped with a myriad of powerful defense systems. The new Vertical Launch System (VLS), a technology which has been of particular interest amongst other navies, is capable of deploying both subsonic and supersonic missiles. Naval drills for this hyper advanced warship have already begun.
“Carrier Killer” Missiles
China’s new and cost-effective cruise missiles, ominously dubbed “carrier killers” for their efficiency in penetrating defense systems and their 1000 mile range are causing quite a stir in the U.S. military community. This new breed of cruise missiles has the capability to be launched from sea, or air, and even from a truck.
What’s it all about?
For a number of reasons, China’s new and cutting edge weapons technology has U.S. officials questioning their military superiority.
At the 2014 Pacific Command (PACOM) conference, Admr. Sam Locklear warned that the era of U.S. sea and air dominance may be over–at least when it comes to the pacific arena.
These sentiments have been somewhat amplified by a recent near collision by China and U.S. navies has additionally escalated tensions.
Though tensions are unlikely to develop into anything serious, some believe this could be the start of a major rivalry.