Australia’s biggest defense – distance – is at stake.
China wants to build a nuclear-powered torpedo swarm capable of hitting targets anywhere in the Pacific within a week.
At this stage, the idea is just a suggestion. But it is based on the Russian Poseidon. atomic a torpedo designed to cause a tsunami at any coastal city with a nuclear warhead.
State controlled South China Morning Post reports that Beijing narrower thinking. But in greater numbers.
Australia has defended its intention to buy or build nuclear submarines against accusations of nuclear proliferation by separating their use as a power source from their use as a warhead.
China is doing the same.
“Due to its high flexibility and low cost, this UAV equipped with a nuclear power system can be used as a conventional force such as a nuclear attack submarine rather than as a nuclear missile,” said Guo Jian, head of the China Atomic Energy Institute. He speaks.
Like Australia, China finds the prospect of almost unlimited coverage attractive.
The institute wants to use tiny “disposable” nuclear reactors to power long-range submarine drones. This would drastically reduce the weapon’s size, eliminating the need for bulky fuel storage and making it harder to locate with a quiet, all-electric propulsion system.
Unlike Australia, China It appears to be aiming for a large fleet of low-cost, torpedo-sized, nuclear-powered “killer robots” that any warship can carry. The Australian Defense Force is bidding for $170 billion consisting of 12 large, fully crewed submarines.
Chinese researchers say they can deliver wolf packs of AI-controlled weapons within 10 years.
After 15 years of hesitation over replacing the aging Collins-class diesel-electric submarines, Australia’s earliest possible construction date for nuclear replacements is in the 2040s.
Nuclear power has been used as a propulsion system since the 1960s. He controls huge aircraft carriers. This allows submarines to stay submerged as long as there is enough air and food. It still powers the Voyager 2 space probe as it passes out of the solar system after 45 years in space.
What has changed is a fundamental overhaul of the technology to make it more stable. And the possibility of its miniaturization.
Guo says China will build weapons using “mature and simple technology, easy to use and maintain, inexpensive and suitable for mass production.”
“We need to think outside the box,” he added.
This includes removing most of the shielding around the reactor. As a result, only sensitive electronic components will be protected from radiation. The torpedo will run on batteries for half an hour after launch. Only then will the reactor ignite up to an operating temperature of 315°C.
The report also explains that expensive rare earth minerals will not be used in the reactor design. Instead, it will be built from cheaper materials such as graphite, which caught fire during the Chernobyl disaster and contributed to radioactive fallout.
As a result, only 4 kg of low-grade uranium fuel is required for the power unit. China says this will produce 1.4 megawatts of heat, of which only six percent will be converted to electricity.
The attraction of such a small power plant is that it can potentially fly a torpedo or underwater drone at 30 knots (56 km/h). Nonetheless Mailt gave conflicting reports on how long (200 or 400 hours).
It stated that the torpedo would have a range of 10,000 km – “roughly the distance from Shanghai to San Francisco.” And Sydney.
Russia adopted a nuclear submarine this month.
The first crewed submarine capable of carrying such a huge device, the K-329 Belgorod, entered service earlier this month.
Unlike the Chinese proposal, Poseidon is huge. But it is reportedly capable of staying at sea for long periods of time or traveling long distances before hitting a target. A two-megaton nuclear warhead (about 100 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima) would set off a tsunami strong enough to flatten a coastal city.
This exposes sites such as Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia to the risk of surprise nuclear attack.
There is no reason why a standard size Chinese torpedo cannot carry a small nuclear warhead.
But Mail reports that China intends to use lurking swarms of smart torpedoes to “strike submarines as they leave port in their waters, which are difficult to reach from manned platforms.”
Its designers also reject any accusations that it is a “dirty bomb” or a disguised nuclear weapon. Instead, a small reactor would be “thrown” into the seabed shortly before the torpedo hit the target, with the final propulsion stage powered by an onboard battery.
This will leave radioactive material outside of any blast radius.
“Even if the hull breaks, the insides are flooded with water and the whole body falls into the wet sand on the seabed, there will not be a critical accident at the reactor. Security is assured,” says Guo.
According to Guo, the nuclear submarine will not only be a weapon. Its high speed and endurance will allow it to explore deep waters and track potential targets such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and crewed submarines.
“When the cost of production is low enough, even if a nuclear device can only be used once, the overall cost will be low,” Guo says.
Originally published as China’s new nuclear plans could hit Australia within a week