China shows off sub-killing plane, but for whom?

David Axe reports that China appears to be testing a new plane designed for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). The plane is equipped with various scanners for the detection of underwater vessels as well as a bomb bay.

As the U.S. bolsters its troop presence in the Pacific, these planes could be seen as China’s answer, a statement that the area will not be ceded easily. Axe explains why this probably isn’t the case. Mainly: the planes are still a generation behind similar Japanese and American planes, and thus aren’t a match against American nuclear subs (SSNs).

“Since this [the Y-8] is only a second generation ASW aircraft, it’s probably a generation behind P-8 Poseidon in terms of the platform and sensors,” notes “Feng,” a blogger from the highly-regarded websiteInformation Dissemination.

For that reason, it’s likely the Y-8 patroller is meant to track the less-sophisticated submarines belonging to countries such as Vietnam and Taiwan – and only when they’re close to shore where other Chinese forces can help.

“China has very limited ASW capabilities and appears not to be making major investments to improve them,” explains Owen Cote, Jr., an analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The ASW capabilities it does have appear focused on coastal defense, and on the threat posed by the diesel submarines of potential regional adversaries as opposed to American SSNs.”

Whether China will continue to develop its military tech in the open remains to be seen (or not). This could be the first of many of these quasi-public shows of new, increasingly advanced maritime warefare technology. Only time will tell.

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