A new report says longstanding American superiority over China is eroding in the war zone beneath the waves.
Chinese technology has resulted in new Chinese submarines becoming harder to detect as it improves its ability to sniff out enemy submarines, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The bottom line, according to the Journal, is that “the era of unchallenged dominance of the U.S. under the seas around China is ending.”
Christopher Carlson, a former Navy officer, said more aircraft and submarines will be required to keep up.
“The implications for the U.S. and our Pacific allies will be profound,” he said.
Although the Journal report says that submarine for submarine, China’s fleet will not match the individual capability of what the U.S. can deploy, China is producing more and more submarines while the U.S. is struggling.
?️??Early this year, #China put to sea a nuclear-powered attack submarine with a pump-jet propulsion system instead of a propeller. It was the first time noise-reducing technology used on the latest American submarines had been seen on a Chinese submarine. – WSJ pic.twitter.com/zKIfvdRhUB
— Konstantinos V. (@KonstanVe) November 20, 2023
The military has said it needs 66 nuclear-powered attack submarines to meet global commitments. It has 49 out of its fleet of 67 nuclear-powered submarines. In the best of all possible construction world, the Navy will not hit that goal until 2049.
China has six nuclear-powered attack submarines. Carlson said once China settles on a prototype, it could make three times as many subs per year as the U.S.
As it is now, a Pentagon report predicts China will have 80 ballistic missile and attack submarines by 2035.
Gen. Anthony Cotton, head of U.S. Strategic Command, has said China’s ballistic missile submarines have the capability of striking targets on the U.S. mainland while staying near China.
China is also growing its ability to find what is sailing beneath the surface due to what it calls the “Underwater Great Wall.” Upgraded sensors along the Chinese coast and in the South China Sea now reduce the element of surprise, as does China’s practice of combining aircraft and helicopters to hunt submarines.
The Journal report noted the American submarines play a major role in simulations of an attack on Taiwan, but that if the superiority those simulations assume no longer exists, they might need to defend themselves and not attack potential invasion ships.
Brent Sadler, a former submarine officer who is a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said China could unleash submarines east of Taiwan to hunt down U.S. submarines.
He said that as China’s strength grows, and demands on America’s forces increase, odds of a showdown increase.
“[T]he U.S. submarine force will certainly be in greater demand than ever before across the wider Pacific and with narrowing margins of advantage over its chief adversary,” he said.
The Defense Department has noted that China has the world’s largest navy totaling 370 ships and submarines.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.