Strikepods engage Shāyús in SCS
Strikepods engaged three Chinese Shāyú-class microsubmarines in an area southeast of Fiery Cross Reef. The battle resulted in the loss of six vessels (three USN, three PLAN), while also shedding new light on the Shāyú.
High resolution imagery obtained during the engagement indicates that the Shāyú is modeled on China's proposed fourth generation SSBN, the Type-098.
MASINT confirmed that the Shāyú's propulsion is, in fact, micronuclear in nature, enabling missions of potentially unlimited range and endurance.
The microreactor powers a pumpjet propulsor, while the hull design features a "Tri" shaped stern, as well as a blended sail and diving planes. This combination provides the Shāyú with impressive acceleration and maneuverability.
"Missile" hatches along the top of the hull are used to deploy microbuoys during ASW operations. Strikepods observed this during a previous engagement in the SCS.
Concept Art: Dhimas Afihandarin
In April of this year, six 5-ship Strikepods were deployed to the South China Sea to provide persistent monitoring of naval and micronaval activities. During the course of that deployment, Strikepods were repeatedly harassed by hostile Shāyú-class microsubmarines while patrolling the waters off Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs.
After nearly a week of hostile encounters, the Shāyús resumed a regular patrol pattern without further incident, until August 31, 2017, when a similar pattern of harassment began approximately 5km southeast of Fiery Cross Reef.
At 0520z, a single Shāyú broke from its established patrol pattern, accelerated, and passed within 10 meters of Strikepod Delta-2. The Shāyú then turned 180 degrees and commenced a second high speed run, this time passing within 5 meters.
The Strikepod rogue classified this as hostile behavior, and, as with previous encounters, immediately ordered Delta-2 to withdraw to a fallback point approximately 1 km to the south.
By 0525 Delta-2 had fully regrouped at the fallback location, but soon detected three contacts approaching at a high rate of speed from the north. Onboard acoustic analysis indicated Shāyú-class microsubmarines, and the rogue immediately ordered Delta-2 to assume a defensive spread formation.
The Shāyús remained in tight formation, and made straight for the rogue. Sensing the approaching attack, the rogue accelerated and dove, while simultaneously ordering Delta-2 remora(1) to accelerate and engage the attacking trio of Shāyús.
With the remora closing, a single Shāyú(1) was dispatched to fight, while the remaining two dove for the rogue. A second remora(2) was then vectored onto the attacking duo, prompting a second Shāyú(2) to break formation and move to intercept, leaving a single Shāyú(3) in pursuit of the rogue.
The rogue leveled off at a depth of 50 meters, but continued to run in a southerly direction. The Shāyú, exhibiting a very high turn of speed, continued its dive in lead pursuit.
At 0531, remora(1) passed within a meter of the attacking Shāyú(1), both traveling at approximately 20 kts. The remora then turned hard to starboard, seeking to take up a position behind Shāyú(1), close, and detonate. However, Shāyú(1) had also executed a hard turn to starboard, and was turning inside remora(1). At 0532.5, the Shāyú maneuvered into the remora's six o'clock position. Despite its best efforts to evade, remora(1) was unable to shake the incoming Shāyú. At 0533, the Shāyú closed to within 1 meter and detonated, destroying remora(1).
At 0533, remora(2) engaged Shāyú(2), in a dogfight of a similar nature. After a head to head pass, the vessels turned, with the remora eventually succumbing to the Shāyú's superior maneuverability. At 0535 the Shāyú detonated, and remora(2) was destroyed.
The rogue, meanwhile, accelerated to flank, and was able to outrun the pursuing Shāyú(3). At 0536, Shāyú(3) broke off pursuit, and assumed a course toward Fiery Cross.
The rogue immediately turned and assumed an opposite heading, and ordered remora(3) to pursue. The Shāyú detected remora(3) at a range of 200 meters, approximately 45 degrees off her port stern, and immediately made a hard turn to port. But it was too late, and, in executing a high yo-yo maneuver, the remora was able to slow and tighten her turn, momentarily offsetting the Shāyú's tighter radius, just enough to maneuver behind the Shāyú, close, and detonate.
At 0540 the Delta-2 relay received coordinates for extraction, and at 0628 both rogue and relay were collected via █████████ ████.
Although the Delta-2 rogue was able to outrun it, the Shāyú is quite fast and highly maneuverable, sprinting to 25 knots, with sustained speeds of 20-22 knots. This, coupled with its tight turning radius, makes it a formidable opponent. The Shāyú demonstrated its ability to out-turn the Atom and maneuver into attack position in two separate head-to-head engagements.
New tactics are urgently needed to counter the speed and maneuverability of the Shāyú. More importantly, however, we are witnessing how microsubmarine combat will very closely resemble modern fighter combat (see the remora high yo-yo). Thus, new doctrine, as well as a broader range of combat tactics, will be required if we are to successfully adapt to this new kind of undersea combat.