PLA needs at least 20 nuclear submarines, says admiral | idrw.org SOURCE: WantChinaTimes.com China does not need as many nuclear-powered submarines as the United States but it will need at least 20 to defend its maritime interests, according to Rear Admiral Yang Yi of the Peopleâ€™s Liberation Army Navy in an article written for the Global Times, a tabloid under the auspices of the Communist Party mouthpiece Peopleâ€™s Daily. Yang said that a nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine is by far the most powerful naval weapons system that currently exists. With the worldâ€™s largest fleet of nuclear submarines during the Cold War, the Soviet Union was able to compete with the United States and its aircraft carriers. After the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991, Yang said that the United States is now the only maritime superpower with both aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. Taking the Virginia-class fast attack submarine as an example, Yang said that US nuclear submarines are designed to complete multiple missions. Virginia-class subs can not only launch ballistic missiles against enemy strategic targets on the ground, but can also be used in anti-submarine or anti-ship operations, Yang said. The admiral added that each of US Navyâ€™s four Ohio-class cruise missile submarines are also able to launch 156 Tomahawk cruise missiles, while the other 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines have the capability to wipe out a medium-size nation with 100 UGM-133 Trident D-5 missiles. Yang believes it is unnecessary for Beijing to launch an arms race with Washington, however, as the United States has a more experience in operating nuclear submarines. It is already a miracle that China has developed a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines in such a short period of time since the 1970s, according to Yang. In an interview with the state-run China News Service, Yang added that it is now time for the world to know the capability of the PLAâ€™s North Sea Fleet operating from its base in Qingdao in eastern Chinaâ€™s Shandong province. However, Yang denied that China has the ability to produce and operate between 70 and 80 nuclear submarines like the United States. China is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and 20 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines is more than enough to uphold the nationâ€™s status in the global community, Yang said. He said China should build its military force patiently and that the current submarine fleet can be used to maintain world peace while also defending the countryâ€™s national interests.