Report to Congress on Chinese Nuclear and Missile Proliferation

The following is the Jan. 23, 2023, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Chinese Nuclear and Missile Proliferation. From the report The U.S. government has continued to express concerns about China’s record concerning the proliferation of nuclear- and missile-related technologies to other countries, with more recent focus on the threat of Chinese acquisition of U.S.-origin […]

The following is the Jan. 23, 2023, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Chinese Nuclear and Missile Proliferation.

From the report

The U.S. government has continued to express concerns about China’s record concerning the proliferation of nuclear- and missile-related technologies to other countries, with more recent focus on the threat of Chinese acquisition of U.S.-origin nuclear technology. (See CRS In Focus IF11050, New U.S. Policy Regarding Nuclear Exports to China, by Paul K. Kerr and Mary Beth D. Nikitin.) Official U.S. government reports indicate that the Chinese government has apparently ended its direct involvement in the transfer of nuclear- and missile-related items, but Chinese-based companies and individuals continue to export goods relevant to those items, particularly to Iran and North Korea. U.S. officials have also raised concerns about entities operating in China that provide other forms of support for proliferation-sensitive activities, such as illicit finance and money laundering.

Background

China did not oppose new states’ acquisition of nuclear weapons during the 1960s and 1970s, the Department of State wrote in a declassified January 1998 report to Congress. According to a 1983 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), China had exported “nuclear materials since 1981” that were not subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Beijing did so “mainly to earn hard currency,” the estimate assesses, explaining that the

Chinese became aware in 1979 that they had insufficient resources for their initially grandiose modernization program and that they needed to generate more revenue through expanded foreign trade. Accordingly, the State Council directed its subordinate ministries in late 1979 to begin selling surpluses.

Consequently, according to the NIE, Beijing ended its “abstention from commercial trade in conventional arms and nuclear materials.” During the 1980s and 1990s, China transferred nuclear and missile technology to other countries’ weapons programs. China provided assistance to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and engaged in nuclear cooperation with Iran. Beijing exported missiles to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. (For more information, see CRS Report RL33192, U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, by Mark Holt, Mary Beth D. Nikitin, and Paul K. Kerr.)

According to U.S. government reports and official statements, China significantly curtailed its nuclear- and missile-related transfers during the 1990s; Beijing also committed to improving its export controls. For example, the 1998 State Department report cited above noted China’s 1996 pledge to refrain from assisting unsafeguarded nuclear facilities and 1997 changes to Chinese nuclear export policy, as well as other Chinese nonproliferation efforts.

The United States has extensive nuclear cooperation with China, which is governed by a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, renewed in 2015. (See CRS Report RL33192, U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.)

The above-described changes in Chinese behavior took place after the two governments concluded their first nuclear cooperation agreement in 1985. Laws subsequently adopted by Congress required, as a condition for U.S. implementation of the agreement, the President to submit to Congress certain nonproliferation-related certifications, as well as a report about Beijing’s “nonproliferation policies and practices.” President William Clinton stated in a January 1998 letter to Congress that China had “made substantial strides in joining the international nonproliferation regime, and in putting in place a comprehensive system of nuclear-related, nationwide export controls,” since concluding the 1985 agreement.

Beijing acceded in 1992 to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as a nuclear-weapon state (NWS) and has voluntary IAEA safeguards on its civil reactors. The treaty defines NWS as those that exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to January 1, 1967: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All other NPT states-parties are nonnuclear-weapon states. According to the treaty, a NWS is not to transfer nuclear weapons to “any recipient whatsoever” or to “in any way … assist, encourage, or induce any” nonnuclear-weapon state “to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons.”

China is also a participant in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)—a multilateral control regime for nuclear-related exports. The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) performs an analogous function for missiles and related items. China is not an MTCR partner but has agreed to adhere to the regime’s export guidelines.

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China Undergoing ‘Build-Up in Every Warfare Area,’ Says ONI Commander

The danger to Taiwan from China is “something we need to take very seriously” as the island is taking steps to mobilize its entire society to deter a mainland takeover, the commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence said last week. The Taiwanese are asking themselves “what can we do to make China think twice” […]

Chinese amphibious landing craft on Nov. 25, 2022. PLA Navy Photo

The danger to Taiwan from China is “something we need to take very seriously” as the island is taking steps to mobilize its entire society to deter a mainland takeover, the commander of the Office of Naval Intelligence said last week.

The Taiwanese are asking themselves “what can we do to make China think twice” before it would attempt a cross-straits invasion, Rear Adm. Michael Studeman said last week. He said Beijing has increased its probes of Taiwan’s air defenses and sent more warships by the island since this summer to also warn off the United States and potential allies.

“The stakes have gone up,” he said.

He noted Taiwan’s stepped-up security spending, extending the training time required of draftees and exercising in how to fight and operate against an invading force, he said speaking at an online event sponsored by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

Studeman said he has shared with Taiwanese officials lessons the United States has learned from the fighting in Ukraine

“China is the number one challenge to America,” noting the pressure it is putting on the Philippines and Japan over territorial claims.

What has been the most surprising thing to him across his more than 30 years of service has been Beijing’s ability to take basic technology from systems like anti-ship ballistic missiles and transform it rapidly into a hypersonic weapons system.

“We have to be really tuned into what they do.” He said that means harnessing “kinetic and non-kinetic ways of dealing” with these technological advances based on a variety of intelligence.

Rear Adm. Michael Studeman

In his opening remarks, Studeman said China is engaged in a “build-up in every warfare area” from space and cyber to a blue water navy. “We’ll see more of the Chinese navy” in the future as it operates more across the globe. Beijing is expanding its logistics networks via port access agreements, formal basing arrangements and takeovers of ports in nations that defaulted on infrastructure loans with China.

In addition to its expanding navy, China’s 15,000-vessel fishing fleet often pays little attention to exclusive economic zone restrictions. The fleets travel the world hauling in catches that deplete fish stocks critical to the world food supply. These vessels use the oceans’ size in locations as far apart as the Philippines and the coast of South America to fish illegally.

The government-subsidized fishing fleet is sometimes backed by China Coast Guard vessels to press territorial claims as it is doing in the South China Sea.

Last month, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro termed China’s illegal and unreported fishing as happening on an “industrial scale.”

The rise of China “is not a regional dominance issue but a global issue,” Studeman said.

On Russian Navy’s performance since the Feb. 24 invasion, Studeman noted that it “continues to fire missiles” from submarines and surface ships into Ukraine, but the ships are staying close to the coast of the Crimean Peninsula for their own safety.

“The Ukrainians have come up with very innovative techniques” to strike back. The Ukrainians sank RTS Moskva (121), the flagship of the Kremlin’s Black Sea fleet, with Neptune missiles in April. In the wake of that strike, the Russians reportedly moved Kilo-class attack submarines from its large base in Sevastopol. This fall, Kyiv used drones to attack several Russian surface ships in the Black Sea.

Despite Russia’s failings on the ground, Moscow is “playing a game of throttling” grain exports from Kyiv through snap inspections despite an agreement between Russia, Ukraine and Turkey to guarantee the safe passage of these vessels through the Black Sea.

“There is great concern” globally about a food crisis brought on by the war.

Studeman said this gives Russia “an opportunity to sell their own wheat” while keeping Ukrainian harvests in port. Moscow has claimed that it has not received all it was guaranteed to export fertilizer in the U.N.-brokered arrangement.

Looking at Iran, which has exported drones to support the Russian military in Ukraine, he said Tehran “is continuing to support its proxies with lots of weaponry” like the Houthis in Yemen to include a variety of unmanned systems. At the same time, Iran, as reported by USNI News, is converting a container cargo ship to a “drone carrier” to increase its long-range strike capabilities beyond the Persian Gulf.

 

Chinese Liaoning Carrier Strike Group Now in East China Sea, PLA Drones Operating Near Japan

Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is operating in the East China Sea following two weeks in the Philippine Sea. The CSG is now likely heading home after its brief Western Pacific patrol. Meanwhile, Chinese Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been transiting the Miyako Strait from the East China Sea into […]

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in the Philippine Sea. JSDF Photo

Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is operating in the East China Sea following two weeks in the Philippine Sea. The CSG is now likely heading home after its brief Western Pacific patrol. Meanwhile, Chinese Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been transiting the Miyako Strait from the East China Sea into the Pacific and returning the same way on Sunday and Monday, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

People’s Liberation Army Navy escorts assigned to the Liaoning Carrier Strike Group. From top to bottom: guided-missile destroyer CNS Chengdu (120), CNS Anshan (103) and CNS Wuxi (104) and frigate CNS Zhaozhuang (542). JSDF Photo

Comprised of carrier CNS Liaoning (16), guided-missile cruisers CNS Anshan (103) and CNS Wuxi (104), guided-missile destroyer CNS Chengdu (120), frigate CNS Zhaozhuang (542) and fast combat support ship CNS Hulunhu (901) transited the Miyako Strait from the East China Sea into the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 16 and then began flight operations in the Philippine Sea. Japan’s Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Ministry of Defense said the CSG had sailed northward through the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea on Sunday. The release also included the following table of sightings of the Liaoning CSG from December 28-31.

Time and Date Location Ships sighted
Wednesday

8pm

28 December

224 miles east of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, fast combat support ship Hulunhu
Thursday

8am

29 December

192 miles northeast of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, fast combat support ship Hulunhu
Friday

8pm

30 December

330 miles east of Kita Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruisers Anshan and Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu
Saturday

8pm

31 December

137 miles south of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruisers Anshan and Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu

 

From Wednesday to Saturday, Liaoning conducted flight operations with about 20 launches and recoveries of fighters and around 40 take-offs and landings of helicopters from the carrier. Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) fighter aircraft were scrambled in response to the fighter activity from the carrier. The release added that an approximate total of 320 take-offs and landings of both fighters and helicopters had been carried out between December 17th to 31st. Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Ariake (DD-109), replenishment ship JS Towada (AOE-422) along with a JMSDF P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa monitored the PLAN CSG according to the release.

The JSO said on Sunday, a Chinese WZ-7 Soaring Dragon unmanned aerial vehicle flew in from the East China Sea through the Miyako Strait, and after reaching the Pacific Ocean in an area south of the Sakishima Islands, it reversed course and returned to the East China Sea via the Miyako Strait. The release stated that JASDF fighters had been scrambled in response to the UAV’s flight and this was the first time that the WZ-7 UAV had been sighted operating around Japan. On Monday, a release by the JSO said, a WZ-7 UAV flew in from the East China Sea and that the UAV followed the same flight route as the one on Sunday and that JASDF fighters were scrambled in response.

WZ-7 Soaring Dragon on Jan. 1, 2023.

The WZ-7 UAV, which has been in service since 2018, is a high-altitude, long-endurance UAV with a similar profile and mission as the U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk, though the Soaring Dragon’s range and endurance are less than the Global Hawk. The Miyako Strait is a 155-mile-wide passageway between Okinawa and Miyako Island which are considered international waters and airspace, Chinese military ships, aircraft and UAVs transit regularly through it from and to the East China Sea with Japan’s military shadowing their movements owing to their proximity to Japan.

Russian, Chinese Naval Exercise Wraps in East China Sea

The Russian Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) wrapped up their Joint Sea 2022 exercise in the East China Sea on Tuesday. The Russian surface action group transited northeast through the Tsushima Strait while the PLAN Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) continued its deployment to the Philippine Sea. On Tuesday, a Russian cruiser, […]

A People’s Liberation Army Navy helicopter takes off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in the Philippine Sea. JSDF Photo

The Russian Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) wrapped up their Joint Sea 2022 exercise in the East China Sea on Tuesday. The Russian surface action group transited northeast through the Tsushima Strait while the PLAN Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) continued its deployment to the Philippine Sea.

On Tuesday, a Russian cruiser, destroyer and two corvettes were sighted about 85 miles northwest of the Danjo Islands in the East China Sea, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense. The ships were identified as the guided-missile cruiser RFS Varyag (011), destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543) and corvettes RFS Sovershennyy (333) and RFS Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339).

The Russian ships were the same ones that sailed southwest through the Tsushima Strait from December 20-21 and also stated that Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106) and minesweeper JS Toyoshima (MSC-685) along with JMSDF P-1s Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 4 based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu shadowed the Russian ships.

Joint Sea 2022 is the latest in an exercise series the East China Sea that has been carried out by the two countries since 2012. This year’s iteration took place from Dec. 21- 27 with the PLAN deploying the destroyers CNS Baotou (133) and CNS Jinan (152), frigates CNS Binzhou (515) and CNS Yancheng (546), replenishment ship CNS Gaoyouhu (966) and a submarine along with airborne early warning and control aircraft and maritime patrol aircraft for the exercise.

Japanese MoD Photo

The Russian Ministry of Defense in a release on Wednesday said that the two navies carried out a drill to rescue a simulated seized vessel, practiced maritime search and rescue, carried out an anti-submarine warfare exercise where the ships of both countries, supported by anti-submarine aircraft, located a notional enemy’s submarine and destroyed it with rocket-propelled depth charges. Live firing of guns at a target simulating a surface ship and live fire of surface-to-air missiles against aerial targets were also carried out according to the release.

Meanwhile, the Liaoning CSG comprising of carrier CNS Liaoning (16), cruisers CNS Anshan (103) and CNS Wuxi (104), destroyer CNS Chengdu (120), frigate CNS Zhaozhuang (542) and fast combat support ship CNS Hulunhu (901) have been conducting operations in the Philippine Sea near Japan’s Daito Islands group, which lies around 224 miles southeast of Okinawa. A Wednesday release by the JSO provided a table showing the location and sightings of ships from the CSG from Friday to Tuesday.

Time and Date Location Ships sighted
Friday

8pm

23 December

640km south of Kita Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang
Saturday

1am

24 December

870km south of Okinotorishima Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang
Sunday

8pm

25 December

670km southeast of Okinotorishima Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu
Monday

8pm

26 December

250km southwest of Okinotorishima Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu
Tuesday

8pm

27 December

270km east of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu

On Friday, Monday and Tuesday, Liaoning conducted flight operations with around 40 launches and recoveries of fighters. Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) fighter aircraft were scramble in response to the fighter activity from the carrier according to the release. Helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Ariake (DD-109) were monitoring the PLAN CSG, according to the MoD.

Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) together with its CSG escorts is operating in the Philippine Sea conducting routine operations based on photographs released by the U.S Navy though there is no indication that the Nimitz CSG is in the same vicinity as the Liaoning CSG.

In French Polynesia, two Iranian Navy ships transited the EEZ of French Polynesia according to a social media post by France Pacific Command on Sunday. The command posted photos of the two ships that were taken by a French Navy Falcon 200 Guardian maritime surveillance aircraft. While the post did not state the identity of the ships, the two ships are most likely seabase IRIS Makran (441) and frigate IRIS Dena (75) which form the Iranian Navy’s 86th Flotilla that left Iran on September 28. Iranian Navy Chief Rear Admiral Shahram Irani stated on a television broadcast on Sept. 30 that the 86th flotilla of the Iranian Navy will circumnavigate the globe in its mission in order to exhibit the Iranian nation’s power. The two ships were last sighted leaving Jakarta, Indonesia on Nov. 5 after a five day visit there.

Top Stories 2022: International Acquisition

This post is part of a series looking back at the top naval stories from 2022. U.S. allies and competitors both continued to expand their naval forces with the world’s largest navies investing in new hulls and capabilities. China’s Naval Development The People’s Liberation Army Navy grew its fleet with an emphasis on aircraft carriers, surface […]

People’s Liberation Army Navy aircraft carrier Fujian on June 17, 2022. Xinhua Photo

This post is part of a series looking back at the top naval stories from 2022.

U.S. allies and competitors both continued to expand their naval forces with the world’s largest navies investing in new hulls and capabilities.

China’s Naval Development

Renhai-class guided-missile cruiser

The People’s Liberation Army Navy grew its fleet with an emphasis on aircraft carriers, surface combatants and amphibious capabilities.

By 2025, the PLAN is set to grow to more than 400 hulls —up from its current count of 340 warships, according to the Pentagon’s annual report on Chinese military power.

“China, the top ship-producing nation in the world by tonnage, is increasing its shipbuilding capacity and capability for all naval classes: submarines, warships, and auxiliary and amphibious ships,” reads the report.
“China domestically produces naval gas turbine and diesel engines as well as almost all shipboard weapons and electronic systems for its shipbuilding sector, making the sector nearly self-sufficient for all shipbuilding needs.”

In June, China launched its third aircraft carrier Fujian (18) at the Jiangnan Shipyard of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation in Shanghai.

Fujian is an 80,000-ton carrier and is the first in the PLAN to feature a catapult launch system. The current Chinese carriers — Liaoning (16) and Shandong (17) — are based on a Russian ski-jump design without a launching system. The much larger Fujian, equipped with electromagnetic launchers, will be able to launch a variety of aircraft with heavier loads.

A PLA-N Luyang-class guided missile destroyer (left) and a PLA-N Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock vessel leave the Torres Strait and enter the Coral Sea on 18 February 2022. Australian MoD Photo

In 2022, the PLAN commissioned three of its Renhai-class guided-missile destroyers and two of its Luyang III-class guided missile destroyers. The Renhai and Luyang destroyers are key platforms in the Chinese surface expansion, according to the Pentagon’s military power report.

In terms of amphibious warships, the PLAN commissioned its third Type 075 large-deck amphibious warship. Modeled on the U.S. Wasp and America class big deck amphibious warships, the Type-075 is thought to be part of a Chinese strategy for an armed, amphibious invasion of Taiwan.

Type-093A-SSN

Submarine construction is moving slower than surface ships, according to the Pentagon.

“The PLAN has placed a high priority on modernizing its submarine force, but its force structure continues to grow modestly as it works to mature its force, integrate new technologies, and expand its shipyards,” reads the Chinese military power report.

Russian Subs on the Move

Illustration of Belgorod submarine. H I Sutton Image used with permission

Russia’s so-called doomsday submarine Belgorad delivered to the Russian Navy in July. Based on a Russian Oscar-class guided-cruise missile submarine, Belgorad was modified to carry six strategic nuclear torpedoes the size of school buses. The 80-foot Poseidon can be armed with up to a 100-megaton warhead designed to target coastal cities and make them unlivable. The 30,000-ton nuclear boat can also be used as a mothership for smaller unmanned vehicles and submersibles.

Belgorod is part of the Russian Navy’s specialized submarine fleet designed for espionage, deep-sea rescue and special operations operated by the Main Directorate of Deep Sea Research — known by the Russian acronym GUGI, (Glavnoye Upravleniye Glubokovodnykh Issledovaniy). The Russian Navy also accepted delivery of the Borei-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine Generalissimus Suvorov. The boomer tested its Buluva ballistic missiles in the White Sea in November and commissioned last week, according to state-controlled Tass News Agency.

Russian submarine delivery ceremony on July 8, 2022. JSC PA Sevmash Photo

Additionally, the Russian Navy commissioned its latest diesel-electric Improved Kilo-class submarine Ufa in November. Russian Kilo attack boats have been used extensively as strike platforms from the Black Sea to hit targets in Ukraine.

The Russians also held sea trails for the third Admiral Gorshkov-class guided-missile frigate in the Baltic Sea, according to the state-controlled Tass News Agency. The class is the Russian Navy’s most modern surface combatant design.

Second U.K. Carrier Damaged, First Type 26 Launches

HMS Glasgow launches. BAE Photo

The U.K. Royal Navy’s second carrier suffered a major propulsion fault and missed its first trans-Atlantic underway. HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is in dry dock repairing the starboard shaft and propellor, the Royal Navy has said.

“Shortly after Prince of Wales left for the East Coast in late August, the carrier’s propulsion system was damaged and it limped back to port for repairs, canceling its U.S. stops that would have included F-35B qualifications and playing host for a defense conference in New York,” reported USNI News in September.

The first-in-class HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) filled in for Price of Wales for its East Coast appearances.

HMS Queen Elizabeth returns from her seven-month global mission on Dec. 9, 2021. UK Royal Navy Photo

The Royal Navy’s first-in-class Type 26 guided-missile frigate, the future HMS Glasgow was launched on Nov. 25. The 6,900-ton frigates are optimized for anti-submarine warfare.

“The Type 26 baseline design features advanced anti-submarine warfare capabilities, a 24-cell Mk 41 vertical launch system for Tomahawk cruise missiles and long-range strike weapons, a 48-cell silo for Sea Ceptor air defense missiles and a 5-inch gun. The flight deck can accommodate CH-47 Chinooks,” wrote USNI News in November.

The Royal Navy announced a contract to procure five more of the frigates in November.

Japan

JS Kumano (FFM-2) launch on Nov. 19, 2018. JMSDF Photo

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces began commissioning the first of its new Mogami-class guided-missile frigates — JS Kumano (FFM-2) in March — the first of a planned class of 22.

“The basic concept of the Mogami-class is that it is a multifunctional vessel serving also as an extension of a minesweeper,” Kazuki Yamashita, a former JMSDF commander, told USNI News in April.

Two other ships in the class, JS Mogami (FFM-1) and JS Noshiro (FFM-3), also joined the JMSDF this year.

JS Taigei(SS-513 in 2020. JSDF Photo

Also in March, Japan commissioned the first in a new class of diesel-electric attack boats —JS Taigei (SS-513). The class is built around a next-generation lithium-ion battery and plans

“The second Taigei-class boat, Hakugei (SS-514) was launched by Kawasaki Heavy Industries in October 2021 and is expected to be commissioned in March 2023. Another two boats have been funded and are under construction,” wrote USNI News in April.

Japan is also acquiring two guided-missile destroyers that will focus on ballistic missile defense. The two planned BMD ships will replace the capability of the Aegis Ashore system Tokyo backed away from last year.

“The Ministry of Defense listed design expenses and engines for the two Aegis BMD ships among 100 items requested that did not have a specific cost at the time of the budget rollout as part of its FY23 budget request,” reported USNI News in September.
“The Ministry of Defense requested $39.7 billion in spending for the next fiscal year, which exceeds the FY 2022 budget of $38.4 billion.”

France Refines Carrier Program

Artist’s impression of the French PANG aircraft carrier.

The increase in the French defense budget for 2022 called for expanded naval spending for new submarines and a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Originally announced in 2020, the design PANG (porte-avions de nouvelle génération) was further refined this year, according to Naval News.

The specifications call for a 75,000-ton carrier, with two to three General Atomics-built electromagnetic launching system, that can accommodate and an airwing of about 30 aircraft. The design is expected to finalize by 2026 with the carrier to commission in 2036.

The PANG ship will replace France’s current FS Charles de Gaulle (F 91), which commissioned in 2001.

Indian Carrier Commissions

INS Vikrant during sea trials with INS Kolkata.

The Indian Navy commissioned its first domestically built aircraft carrier in September in a ceremony at Cochin Shipyard Limited, Kochi, after years of delay.

The keel for the 43,000-ton Indigenous Aircraft Carrier INS Vikrant (R11) was laid down in 2009. The ship was originally planned for commissioning in 2016, but numerous delays during its construction led to its delay in entering the fleet.

“The carrier’s air wing will comprise of 30 aircraft including MiG-29K fighters Kamov-31 and MH-60R multi-role helicopters while Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) (Navy) are envisioned to be operating off the carrier in the future,” reported USNI News.

The Indian Navy also has a requirement for 26 Multirole Carrier Borne Fighters (MRCBF) aircraft with Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and Dassault’s Rafale-M in contention for that requirement. In December, local press reported that the Rafale had taken the lead in the competition.

Vikrant is expected to be fully operational in mid to late 2023 due to flight trials and integration of the MiG-29Ks into the carrier.

South Korea Backs Away from Carrier Program

Republic of Korea Navy CVX carrier concept. RoK Navy Image

The Republic of South Korea Navy abandoned plans to develop a domestically built aircraft carrier that would field up to 20 short takeoff vertical landing F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.

The CVX program was zeroed out as part of the rethink of the South Korean security priorities as part of its latest defense budget submission.

“The budget reflects the priorities of the new administration under President Yoon Suk-yeol, who has downplayed the importance of CVX and emphasized that of the so-called ‘three-axis system’ — a defense strategy aimed at deterring North Korea,” reported USNI News.

“The three-axis system envisions a pre-emptive strike against North Korea when a nuclear attack against South Korea seems imminent, followed by the interception of missiles that have already been launched and a massive conventional retaliatory strike against the North Korean military and its top brass. Funding for the system will increase 9.4 percent or around $3.9 billion, according to the proposal.”

The procurement emphasis would be on systems like the ballistic-missile KSS-III ballistic missile submarine and the Ulsan-class frigate and the anti-submarine warfare unmanned underwater vehicle (ASWUUV).

 

Russian, Chinese Warships Hold Drill in East China Sea, Chinese Carrier Strike Group Steams in Philippine Sea

The Russian Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are exercising in the East China Sea while the PLAN Liaoning Carrier Strike Group continues operating in the Philippine Sea. On Wednesday, the Joint Staff Office of Japan’s Ministry of Defense said on a Russian Navy cruiser, destroyer and two corvettes were sighted Tuesday, sailing […]

The Russian Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are exercising in the East China Sea while the PLAN Liaoning Carrier Strike Group continues operating in the Philippine Sea.

On Wednesday, the Joint Staff Office of Japan’s Ministry of Defense said on a Russian Navy cruiser, destroyer and two corvettes were sighted Tuesday, sailing southwest in an area 50 miles northeast of Tsushima. The group included cruiser RFS Varyag (011), destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543) and corvettes RFS Sovershennyy (333) and RFS Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339), all part of the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet. The release added that the four ships sailed southwest through the Tsushima Strait into the East China Sea from Tuesday to Wednesday. The Russian ships were monitored by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) fast attack craft JS Shirataka (PG-829) and JMSDF P-1s maritime patrol aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 4 based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu.

The four Russian Navy ships were traveling to rendezvous with PLAN ships for the Russia-China Joint Sea 2022, a series of joint exercises in the East China Sea that has been carried out by the two countries since 2012. This year’s iteration is taking place from Dec. 21 to 27.

Four Russian warships operating near Japan. JSDF Photo

Russian replenishment ship Pechanga is also taking part in the exercise, according to a release by China’s Ministry of National Defense. The PLAN is deploying the destroyers CNS Baotou (133) and CNS Jinan (152), frigates CNS Binzhou (515) and Yancheng (546), replenishment ship CNS Gaoyouhu (966) and a submarine along with airborne early warning and control aircraft and maritime patrol aircraft. The drills will encompass a wide range of maritime warfare activities along with live firing. Last year in October, both navies conducted joint drills along with jointly sailing in international waters off the west coast of the main Japanese island of Honshu.

Meanwhile, the Liaoning CSG comprising of carrier CNS Liaoning (16), cruisers CNS Anshan (103) and CNS Wuxi (104), destroyer CNS Chengdu (120), frigate CNS Zhaozhuang (542) and fast combat support ship CNS Hulunhu (901) have been conducting operations in the Philippine Sea near Japan’s Daito Islands group, which lies around 360km southeast of Okinawa. A JSO release on Wednesday provided a table showing the sightings of ships from Saturday to Tuesday

Time and Date Location Ships sighted
8pm

Saturday

17 December

260km west-southwest of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, frigate Zhaozhuang and fast combat support ship Hulunhu
8pm

Sunday

18 December

350km east-southeast of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, destroyer Chengdu, frigate Zhaozhuang, and fast combat support ship Hulunhu
8pm

Monday

19 December

270km east-northeast of Kita Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, destroyer Chengdu and frigate Zhaozhuang
8pm

Tuesday

20 December

450km east-northeast of Kita Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Anshan and destroyer Chengdu

 

The JSO release stated that during this period in the day, a total of 60 fighter aircraft launches, flights and recoveries were conducted along with 70 take-offs, flights and landings by helicopters on Liaoning. The release stated that destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104) shadowed the PLAN CSG and Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) fighter aircraft were scrambled in response to the carrier’s fighter activity. Kirisame has been shadowing the PLAN CSG since December 16 when it was sighted in the East China Sea.

On Friday, the JSO issued a release with the following table for Wednesday and Thursday’s activity by the PLAN CSG.

 

Time and Date Location Ships sighted
8pm

Wednesday

21 December

560km east of Kita Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi and frigate Zhaozhuang
8pm

Thursday

22 December

120km east of Okinotorishima Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi and frigate Zhaozhuang

The release stated that for the two days in daytime, 50 fighter aircraft launches, flights and recoveries were conducted along with 20 take-offs, flight and landings by helicopters on Liaoning. The release stated that PLAN CSG was monitored by Kirisame along with the destroyer helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and JASDF fighter aircraft were scrambled in response to Liaoning’s fighter activity.

A PLAN destroyer is operating near the Exclusive Economic Zone of French Polynesia, according to a social media post by the French Pacific Command on Friday, which posted photos taken by a French Navy Falcon 200 Guardian maritime surveillance aircraft. The hull number of the PLAN destroyer identifies it as CNS Yinchuan (175).

https://twitter.com/ALPACIFRAPACOM/status/1606029950242369536

Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is operating in the Philippine Sea, as well, according to a Tuesday JMSDF release. On Monday, JMSDF P-1s conducted tactical and interoperability exercises with Nimitz and its embarked aircraft along with U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon MPAs and U.S. Air Force (USAF) B-52 bombers. The release stated that the exercise took place in the sea area from the south of Iwo Jima to the east of Guam.

On Wednesday in Indonesia, the U.S. Navy and the Indonesian Navy concluded Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Indonesia 2022, according to a U.S. 7th Fleet release.

CARAT/MAREX Indonesia took place in Surabaya, Situbondo and in the Java Sea from Dec. 7-21 and focused on shared maritime security challenges of the region and increasing proficiency in amphibious operations according to the release. The exercise included a joint amphibious assault by the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the Indonesian Marine Corps. Indonesian ships in the exercise were frigates KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata (331) and KRI Abdul Halim Perdanakusuma (355), corvette KRI Diponegoro (365),patrol boat KRI Singa (651, ) landing platform dock KRI Surabaya (591) and landing ship tank KRI Teluk Palu (523), U.S Navy ships taking part were the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD-23) along with their embarked 13th MEU units. Also taking part were a U.S Navy P-8A Poseidon MPA and two Indonesian Air Force F-16 fighters.

Makin Island and Anchorage, together with amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) form the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group which left Naval Base San Diego in early November for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific region.

Report to Congress on The People’s Liberation Army

The following is the Dec. 21, 2022, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, China Primer: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA). From the report Overview The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the military arm of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’ or China’s) ruling Communist Party. Since 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has referred […]

The following is the Dec. 21, 2022, Congressional Research Service In Focus report, China Primer: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

From the report

Overview

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the military arm of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’ or China’s) ruling Communist Party. Since 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has referred to China as the “pacing” threat or challenge for the U.S. military. DOD reported in November 2022 that China’s leaders aim to use the PLA, in part, to “restrict the United States from having a presence in China’s immediate periphery and limit U.S. access in the broader Indo-Pacific region.” Members of Congress have responded in part by focusing on resourcing and conducting oversight of U.S.-China security competition.

PLA Organization

Established in 1927, the PLA predates the founding of the PRC in 1949. The PLA encompasses four services: the PLA Army, PLA Navy, PLA Air Force, and PLA Rocket Force, as well as two sub-service forces, the Strategic Support Force, and the Joint Logistics Support Force. The Communist Party oversees these forces through its Central Military Commission, which in some respects is akin to the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. This Commission also oversees a paramilitary force, the People’s Armed Police (which includes the China Coast Guard), and China’s militia forces. Xi Jinping, who serves concurrently as Communist Party general secretary and PRC president, also has chaired the Commission—which currently has six other members—since 2012.

In 2015, Xi publicly launched the most ambitious reform and reorganization of the PLA since the 1950s. This overhaul had two overarching objectives: reshaping and improving the PLA’s structure to enable joint operations among the services and ensuring PLA loyalty to the Party and Xi. Seven years on, the PLA continues to fine-tune and institutionalize these sweeping changes.

China’s Military Strategy and Goals

The stated goal of China’s national defense policy is to safeguard the country’s sovereignty, security, and development interests. The concept of “active defense”—the defining characteristic of PRC military strategy since 1949—prescribes how China can use defensive and offensive operations and tactics to achieve these goals in the face of a militarily superior adversary.

Authoritative PRC sources indicate China’s military strategy focuses primarily on preparing for a conflict involving the United States over Taiwan—the self-ruled island of 23 million people off the coast of mainland China over which the PRC claims sovereignty. (See CRS In Focus IF10275, Taiwan: Political and Security Issues, for a discussion of U.S. interests related to Taiwan’s security.) The PLA also focuses on defending and advancing China’s territorial claims over disputed areas in the South China Sea and East China Sea, and along the China-India border. As China’s economic and diplomatic interests have expanded beyond its immediate periphery, PRC leaders have tasked the PLA with global missions such as distant sea lane protection and United Nations peacekeeping operations. The PLA established its sole overseas military base in Djibouti in 2017. Some analysts assess that it will be the first of several.

PLA Modernization and Key Capabilities

Since 1978, China has engaged in a sustained and broad effort to transform the PLA from an infantry-heavy, low-technology, ground forces-centric military into a leaner, more networked, high-technology force with an emphasis on joint operations and power projection. Xi has set the goal of transforming the PLA into a “world-class” force by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the PRC’s founding and the year by which Xi has stated he aims to achieve “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”

A guiding principle of PLA modernization and strategy since the mid-2000s has been the concept of “informatization,” or the application of advanced information technology across all aspects of warfare. Reflecting widely-held expectations that artificial intelligence and related technologies will have a transformational effect on warfare, China’s leaders more recently have called for the “intelligentization” of the PLA.

The PLA is expanding its operational reach, strengthening its ability to conduct joint operations, and fielding increasingly modern weapons systems. Key features of PLA modernization include:

  • An approximately 340-ship navy that includes modern and advanced platforms such as submarines, aircraft carriers, and large multi-mission surface vessels, giving China the ability to conduct naval combat operations in its immediate periphery and sustained non-combat operations further afield.
  • Air forces increasingly capable of conducting joint and over-water missions, featuring a fighter fleet with several hundred fourth-generation fighter aircraft and growing numbers of fifth-generation fighters (China and the United States are the only countries to have developed fifth-generation stealth fighters).
  • A conventional missile force designed to enable China to deter or defeat third-party intervention in a regional military conflict, featuring at least 1,900 missiles, including approximately 300 intercontinental ballistic missiles, missiles armed with hypersonic glide vehicles, and anti-ship ballistic missiles designed to target adversary surface ships.

Download the document here.

Japan’s 2022 National Security Strategy, National Defense Strategy

The following is the provisional English translation of the December 2022 National Security Strategy of Japan and the Japanese National Defense Strategy. From the report The international community is facing changes defining an era. We are reminded once again that globalization and interdependence alone cannot serve as a guarantor for peace and development across the […]

The following is the provisional English translation of the December 2022 National Security Strategy of Japan and the Japanese National Defense Strategy.

From the report

The international community is facing changes defining an era. We are reminded once again that globalization and interdependence alone cannot serve as a guarantor for peace and development across the globe. The free, open, and stable international order, which expanded worldwide in the post-Cold War era, is now at stake with serious challenges amidst historical changes in power balances and intensifying geopolitical competitions. Meanwhile, a host of issues such as climate change and infectious disease crises are emerging, requiring cross-border cooperation among nations. Today, we are in an era where confrontation and cooperation are intricately intertwined in international relations.

To date, advanced democratic countries, including Japan, have devoted themselves to upholding universal values such as freedom, democracy, respect for fundamental human rights, and the rule of law, and to spearheading the effort to shape the international society of coexistence and coprosperity. Numerous countries around the world, including developing countries, have also enjoyed the fruits of international peace, stability, and economic development in this globalized world rooted in such order.

At the same time, however, dissatisfaction stemming from widening economic disparities and other factors are generating renewed feelings of tensions at the domestic level and even in inter-state relations. Guided by their own historical views and values, some nations, not sharing universal values, are making attempts to revise the existing international order. In the course of almost a century, humanity has invested itself in defining a fundamental international principle of the general prohibition of the use of force. Yet, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (hereinafter referred to as the “UN Security Council”), which has the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security, has overtly trampled on this very principle.

This is coupled with ongoing unilateral changes to the status quo and such attempts at sea.
In addition, some states, not sharing universal values, are exploiting unique approaches to rapidly develop their economies and science technologies, and then, in some areas, are gaining superiorities over those states that have defended academic freedom and market economy principles. These moves challenge the existing international order, thereby intensifying geopolitical competitions in international relations. In the face of that, many developing and other nations are striving to avoid embroiling themselves in geopolitical competitions. We are even observing that some states are now following the lead of those not sharing universal values.

At a time when geopolitical competition is intensifying, issues are arising elsewhere in the world which call for global cooperation at large. We live in an era where there is a greater imperative than ever before for the international community to rally together in cooperation beyond differences in values, conflicts of interest, and others for the sake of taking on those global challenges that transcend national borders and put the very existence of humankind at risk such as climate change and infectious disease crises.

Turning our eyes to the neighboring region, Japan’s security environment is as severe and complex as it has ever been since the end of World War II. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has easily breached the very foundation of the rules that shape the international order. The possibility cannot be precluded that a similar serious situation may arise in the future in the Indo-Pacific region, especially in East Asia. Across the globe, historical changes in power balances, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, are occurring. In addition, in the vicinity of Japan, military buildups, including of nuclear weapons and missiles, are rapidly advancing, coupled with mounting pressures by unilaterally changing the status quo by force. Moreover, grey zone situations over territories, cross-border cyberattacks on critical civilian infrastructures, and information warfare through spread of disinformation, are constantly taking place, thereby further blurring the boundary between contingency and peacetime. Furthermore, the scope of national security has expanded to include those fields previously considered non-military such as economic, technological and others, and thus the boundary between military and nonmilitary fields is no longer clear-cut either.

Download the document here.

Chinese Liaoning Carrier Strike Group Now Operating in the Philippine Sea

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Liaoning Carrier Strike Group is now operating in the Philippine Sea, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defense. Meanwhile, a PLAN survey ship entered Japan’s territorial waters on Monday and two Chinese H-6 bombers flew in and out of the Pacific Ocean on Monday afternoon, according to news releases from […]

People’s Liberation Army Navy carrier Liaoning and its strike group are underway near the Philippine Sea. JSDF Photo

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Liaoning Carrier Strike Group is now operating in the Philippine Sea, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defense.

Meanwhile, a PLAN survey ship entered Japan’s territorial waters on Monday and two Chinese H-6 bombers flew in and out of the Pacific Ocean on Monday afternoon, according to news releases from the Joint Staff Office (JSO) in the Ministry of Defense.

At 10 a.m. on Thursday, carrier CNS Liaoning (16), accompanied by cruiser CNS Anshan (103), destroyer CNS Chengdu (120), frigate CNS Zhaozhuang (542) and fast combat support ship CNS Hulunhu (901), was sighted sailing south 440 kilometers west of Fukue Island in the East China Sea, according to a Friday release from the JSO. At 12 p.m., cruiser CNS Wuxi (104) was sighted sailing southeast in an area 420 kilometers west of Fukue Island. Wuxi then joined the Liaoning CSG and all six ships sailed south together through the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean on Friday.

Liaoning launched and recovered its helicopters while in the East China Sea, according to the release from Japan’s Ministry of Defense. Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104), together with a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 4 stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu and a JMSDF P-3MPA of Fleet Air Wing 5 stationed at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, monitored the PLAN CSG.

A People’s Liberation Army Navy J-15 carrier fighter takes off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in the Philippine Sea. JSDF Photo

On Saturday at 11 a.m., Liaoning – along with Wuxi, Chengdu, Zhaozhuang and Hulunhu – was sighted in an area 260 kilometers southwest of Oki Daito Island, according to a Sunday news release from the Japanese government. Oki Daito is part of the Daito Islands group, which lies southeast of Okinawa, in the Philippine Sea. Liaoning conducted flight operations of its embarked fighters and helicopters from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Destroyer Kirisame continues to shadow the group and Japan Air Self-Defense Force fighter aircraft scrambled in response to the PLAN fighter jets taking off from Liaoning, according to the release.

The Liaoning CSG last deployed in the same area in May, when it conducted drills for over two weeks. Of the seven ships that accompanied Liaoning then, only Chengdu and Hulunhu are with the current CSG. Several other PLAN ships are also operating around the Pacific Ocean, with a surface action group comprising of cruiser CNS Lhasa (102), destroyer CNS Kaifeng (124) and replenishment ship CNS Taihu (889) transiting through the Osumi Strait into the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday. Meanwhile, on Thursday, destroyer CNS Taizhou (138) transited the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean. Destroyer CNS Nanjing (155) and frigate CNS Anyang (599) transited into the Pacific Ocean via the Miyako Strait on Dec. 3.

Location of Liaoning in the Philippine Sea on Dec. 18, 2022. JSDF image

On Monday at 3:20 a.m., a PLAN hydrograph survey ship was sighted sailing westwards in an area 50 kilometers south-east of Tanegashima Island, part of the Osumi Islands group which lies south of the main island of Kyushu, according to a release issued by Japan’s Ministry of Defense. The hull number provided identified the ship as CNS Chen Jingrun (26). The PLAN ship entered Japan’s contiguous zone south of Tanegashima and at 6:50 a.m. It then entered Japan’s territorial waters south of Yakushima Island and left Japan’s territorial waters west of Kuchinoerabu Island at 10:30 a.m. and sailed southwest. A JMSDF P-1 MPA of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base, Kyushu monitored the PLAN ship, according to the release.

On Monday afternoon, two Chinese H-6 bombers flew in from the East China Sea and passed over the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean before turning back at a point southeast of Oki Daito Island and transiting over the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea, according to a JSO news release issued Monday. JASDF fighters scrambled in response.

Royal Thai Navy Corvette Sinks in Gulf of Thailand

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) corvette HTMS Sukhothai (FS-442) sank in the Gulf of Thailand at 1130pm Sunday night local time following a loss of power and subsequent flooding of the ship. Its crew were recovered safely before the ship sank. The RTN’s official Twitter account posted photos and videos of the incident the same […]

Thai corvette HTMS Sukhothai listing starboard after taking on water on Dec. 18, 2022. Royal Thai Navy Photo

The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) corvette HTMS Sukhothai (FS-442) sank in the Gulf of Thailand at 1130pm Sunday night local time following a loss of power and subsequent flooding of the ship. Its crew were recovered safely before the ship sank.

The RTN’s official Twitter account posted photos and videos of the incident the same night, stating that Sukhothai was on patrol 20 miles from the port in Bang Saphan district, Central Thailand when strong waves caused water to enter into the electrical systems of the ship which resulted in a loss of power and control for the ship along with water entering the hull resulting in the ship tilting.

The RTN dispatched the frigates HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej (FFG-471) and HTMS Kraburi (FFG-457) and landing platform dock HTMS Angthong (LPD-791) to assist Sukhothai though only Kraburi was close enough to reach the scene before the ship sank. Two RTN helicopters were also dispatched to the scene. The 110 sailors of Sukhothai’s crew were safely evacuated off the ship to the frigate Kraburi. According to the RTN, strong winds and waves prevented recovery efforts and the ship sank at 11:30 p.m. local time.

Sukhothai was one of two Ratanakosin-class corvettes built in the United States by the now closed Tacoma Boatbuilding Company with lead ship HTMS Ratanakosin (FS-441) commissioned in 1986 and Sukhothai commissioned in 1987. The RTN’s other corvettes are the three UK designed and locally built Khamronsin class corvettes which entered service in 1992 and two Tapi class corvettes built by American Shipbuilding Corporation and Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Corporation and commissioned respectively in 1971 and 1973.

Thailand currently has a Type 071E LPD on order with China which has just completed its sea trials in China though its procurement of a single S26T Yuan class submarine from China continues to be stalled owing to the fact that the original contract for the submarine called for the German MTU396 diesel engines to be installed which cannot be fulfilled due to MTU refusing to export the engines to China as it was a military item under a European Union embargo on military items exported to China. The embargo was placed in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacres. China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co (CSOC), has offered an improved version of its CH620D engine but RTN Chief ADM Choengchai Chomchoengpaet said on November 22 that the RTN wanted the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to guarantee the engine. Thai newspaper The Nation reported that the RTN will make a decision in June 2023 on the program and that the engine must undergo certification by the People’s Liberation Army Navy.