The imminent arrival of the strategic couple formed by the nuclear-powered missile submarine Belgorod, a variation of the Antey class, and the nuclear-powered strategic drone torpedo Poseidon, within the Russian Navy, has caused much ink to flow. in recent weeks in the West, even if the effective strategic contribution of this binomial capable of eliminating a large coastal city with its 2 megaton head, is more than debatable. However, the principle has apparently inspired Chinese engineers, who have just announced the design of a torpedo equipped with a miniaturized nuclear reactor. On the other hand, the operational concept targeted by the Chinese Navy differs greatly from that of the Poseidon, making it both much more suitable for military use, and much cheaper to produce.
The site South China Morning Post based in Hong Kong, echoed an article published by the scientific director of the Chinese Institute of Atomic Energy Guo Jian in the Journal of Autonomous Underwater Systems, a professional publication of China Shipbuilding Industries Corporation. The Chinese scientist details the design of a tactical torpedo equipped with a miniaturized nuclear reactor, allowing it to maintain a speed of 200 knots for 30 hours. The torpedo, miniaturized enough to be launched from the torpedo tubes of Chinese nuclear attack submarines, would eject its nuclear core once the target has been identified, and engage it using its electric batteries, like a traditional torpedo, without risk of nuclear contamination, especially since the weapon would only use conventional military charges, and not a nuclear warhead.
The Chinese model, and its concept of use, therefore differ radically from those of the Poseidon torpedo, which can only be used in the context of total nuclear war for which it would bring little added value. , which requires a specially modified submarine to deploy. The Chinese torpedo is indeed akin to a purely conventional and tactical weapon, allowing for example to engage naval forces at a very long distance with a range of 6000 nautical miles, enough to strike ships docked at Pearl Harbor from the Sea of China, or to patrol naval areas like a MALE drone or a Vagabond Ammunition. It therefore responds to the immediate constraints of the Chinese Navy, which only has 6 Type 093 modern nuclear attack submarines capable of oceanic engagement, but which aligns more thanabout forty Type 039 conventionally powered submarines designed to operate in relative proximity to the Chinese coasts and their home port.
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