China be warned! Trump places £7.2bn order for ‘most advanced’ US submarine of all time
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The Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine will form one-third of the US military’s feared nuclear triad, which also includes long-range nuclear-armed warplanes and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The order for the new submarine comes amid the chaotic US Presidential election which has yet to produce a clear winner but also at a time of soaring tensions with China.
The Columbia-class will be the largest, most advanced, most capable submarine ever produced by this nation
Rear Admiral Scott Pappano
Officials said the deal includes money to finish construction of the future USS Columbia and buy materials for the future USS Wisconsin, the second of the new class of missile subs that will replace the Ohio class.
Rear Admiral Scott Pappano, program executive officer for Columbia, said: “The Columbia-class will be the largest, most advanced, most capable submarine ever produced by this nation.”
The Columbia class — which will carry Trident nuclear-tipped missiles — is the US Navy’s top acquisition project and the third big nuclear weapon contract awarded by the Pentagon this year.
In April the Air Force asked Raytheon to build a new long-range nuclear cruise missile and in September awarded a Northrop Grumman a £10.10bn deal to start building new ICBMs that will replace the Cold War-era Minuteman III.
Northrop is also building the B-21, a new stealth bomber being developed in secret since 2015.
The US Navy was given special permission to place the submarine order by Congress at a time of soaring tensions with China which has itself just unveiled a new amphibious assault vessel and carried out live-fire drills with a recently-launched aircraft carrier.
The Type 075 amphibious assault ship was pictured at a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) naval base in Sanya in Hainan province.
It is a 32,000-ton vessel which would be China’s most powerful amphibious assault ship and gives the PLA Navy the option to deploy helicopter attacks on naval vessels, enemy ground forces or submarines. It can also deploy landing craft and troops.
Chinese military expert Song Zhongping told the state-run Global Times the ship would undergo more sea trials in the South China Sea.
He said both the South China Sea and East China Sea fleets were tasked with operations around Taiwan so it could join either fleet.
It is too early to tell whether the Type 075 will go into service, but it appears to be undergoing preparation for testing in the area.
Its deployment will add another layer of tension to ongoing disputes in the South China Sea.
China’s President Xi Jinping has already told his troops to prepare for war during an inspection Chaozhou City, Guangdong.
Mr Xi told Chinese marines to “focus your minds and energy on preparing to go to war and stay highly vigilant”.
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Last month China showed off its military might in terrifying footage of live-fire drills on another new warship.
Dramatic footage showed the 50,000-tonne Shandong launching ammunition at targets.
China’s Central Television’s military channel reported the Shandong had “successfully completed a series of maritime tests and training items”.
It went on to say how the military exercises “effectively examined” the performance of the warship’s weapons and equipment.
Shandong captain Lai Yijun said the aircraft carrier had been “focusing on live-fire drills”.
The footage showed fighter jets taking off and landing on the carrier and ammunition being fired towards “enemies”.
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