Japan has announced plans to boost its submarine fleet from 16 to 22 large diesel boats, plus two combat-capable training hulls, by slowing the traditional retirement rate. It’s a clear reaction to China’s growing fleet and increasing belligerence. Kyle Mizokami has more at his blog Japan Security Watch.
Note that many Asian powers are growing their sub fleets to balance China. Beijing now owns some 60 submarines, though most are small and short-legged and their crews inexperienced. South Korea is adding six to its 12-strong fleet; Australia wants to double from six to 12. Even poor neglected Taiwan has unlikely plans to add to its current two operational boats. The American attack-sub force should hold steady at around 50 large vessels.
Submarines are by far the most powerful warships — more dangerous than even aircraft carriers. Despite China’s growth as a naval power, in wartime Beijing would remain effectively bottled up by the combined submarine fleets of its major rivals.