More on the Indo-Pacific Naval Arms RaceAugust 13, 2013
Last month, I posted a report from a respected maritime industry analyst who believed that the nations of South and Southeast Asia would be spending hundreds of billions of dollars and adding over 1000 naval ships to the total regional inventory over the next two decades. Yesterday, I summarized some of the larger recent acquisitions – a new nuclear submarine and several new or newly refurbished aircraft carriers (or quasi-carriers, in the case of Japan) by the regions biggest powers China, Japan and India.
But it is not just the large powers . . . news today that some of the second tier powers are busily enhancing their submarine fleets. First, Vietnam is set to receive six submarines from Russia over the next few years, and the Russians have recently floated the third of those six. These Russian subs are of a type called “the black hole of the ocean” by US Navy sonar operators, who find them virtually impossible to find and to track. The first of those subs will go operational by the Vietnam navy later this year.
South Korea is also adding submarines to its own fleet. It recently launched its 4th in a new class of attack submarines and is planning an adding 9 more even more advanced boats in coming years, doubling its current sub fleet inventory.