May 12, 2015 09:43
There was concern among pundits here Monday after North Korea launched a submarine-borne ballistic missile last week.
One military source said the move could spark an underwater arms race in the region.
China operates submarines as the core for its "anti-access/area denial strategy" aimed at preventing the U.S. military from increasing its influence in East Asia.
Recently, it has deployed a new strategic nuclear-powered submarine carrying JL-2 ballistic missiles with a range of more than 8,000 km.
Japan's submarine capability is also growing. It plans to augment its submarine force from four fleets (18 subs) to six fleets (22 subs). They are reportedly designed to monitor the East China Sea but could turn their attention to the East Sea if the North deploys its submarine-launched missiles warfare-ready.
Russia, which has 64 submarines, deployed two 19,400-ton strategic nuclear-powered submarines at its Pacific Fleet in 2013 and 2014.
South Korea is the sixth country in the world to launch a submarine command but a mere 13 U-boats.
"The deep East Sea is a haven for subs from neighboring countries," a Navy officer here said. "We need to procure a large sub fleet given growing territorial disputes and military expansion in East Asia."
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