A Snake Hole, as it is commonly called, is the exit hole made by an Underground Bore Vehicle or UBV. Both the United States and China produced UBV in secret before the war. Only China perfected a practical model called the Scaptonyx-1 and since its production, has made vast improvements. Below is a list of models and a brief description:
1 Scaptonyx-1 First production model of Chinese UBV produced between 2003-2005. This is the most common of all Chinese UBV models. It is 100 meters in length and roughly 40 feet tall. Most of the space in the forward section is taken up by the craft's reactor. As with all known UBV in the world, the craft is cylinder shaped. Its speed is roughly 13 miles an hour, depending on subterranean conditions. Unlike all other known Chinese models, it lacks any sort of water propulsion system. It is also the most lightly armed, carrying a single plasma-cutter torpedo and one tunnel mine dispenser. It has no defensive weapons for use while surfaced.
While idle or in case of damage to the reactor, the Scaptonyx-1 can power itself by geo-thermal generators. This feature was added to increase crew survivability before the UBVs became more reliable. Scaptonyx-1 models did not include an escape system but a few have been retrofitted. The Scaptonyx-1 has no "top-side comm" system, meaning it has to rely on a series of repeaters dropped in the tunnel it makes from its point of origin. This is a costly and unreliable system which started being phased out of production after only a few years. The only advantage is that the radio signal repeaters can be reused and can be used for a variety of electronic tasks in addition to UBV communication.
Scaptonyx-1 can carry very little cargo (estimated 20 tons in the hold) but often makes up for this shortcoming by towing egg shaped trailers behind it (often referred to as "Rabbit Eggs" or "Breakfast Barges"). These trailers can be pulled in either direction in case of a problem. Most are estimated to carrying up to 80 tons.
One Scaptonyx-1 UBV was capture in Lake Michigan on the night of January 1st 2010 after it entered the lake due to a navigational error caused by a computer malfunction. The craft's feature which allowed it to jettison the reactor/forward section came in handy and the crew/cargo section floated to the surface. The crew escaped after setting the craft's self-destruct system in motion. However, it too malfunctioned and the craft did not self destruct, possibly due to the same mainframe problem that had caused it to end up in the lake to start with. When the crew reached the shore, they realized that the UBV was not going to explode as planned. Frantically, several of the crew tried to reach the vehicle in a stolen civilian sailboat. Not having much or any sailing experience in addition to the high winds that night, caused them to miss the UBV by half a mile. By then, the sailboat's owner had noticed it stolen and reported it to the police, who reported the boat stolen to the Coast Guard. The crewmen charged with trying a second time to scuttle the UBV were picked up by the Coast Guard and the boat returned. Immediately, they knew something big was on their hands and took every step to cover it up. This included a large area manhunt for the rest of the UBV crew. All but one was captured and their fate is unknown to this day. Little is known about the incident except that the US Navy rolled out their first production model UBV called "The Rattlesnake" a year later. It is almost a direct copy of the Scaptonyx-1 except with a better mainframe, more efficient reactor and better electronics. Its cargo capacity was always a well kept secret but it is estimated to be about 10% more than the Scaptonyx-1. Both the Chinese and American copies are normally crewed by 12-15.
2. Scaptonyx-2. Like the Scaptonyx-1 except it has almost no cargo capacity and carries a large amount of offensive weapons as well as some defensive weapons for surface use. The Scaptonyx-2 carries two upwards-facing plasma-cutter torpedo tubes and normally 4 torpedoes per tube. It carried two mine dispensers on either side towards the very aft section of the craft. It carries a mine clearing device normally, which is a high powered laser which can burn through 100 meters of rock, though it is time consuming to use and requires that the craft is stopped. The laser requires all or most of the reactor power to use and is prone to malfunction and has a short service life. Larger UBV carry 2 to 4 such lasers for just such a reason. Aside from mine clearing, the heavy device has no other apparent use. The 2 model carries a surface defense pod which is deployed from the dorsal of the craft. The pod is armed with two anti-tank missiles (various models) or two anti-air missiles (HN-5 Grail). Mounted center in the pod is a 30mm cannon similar to what can be found on the BMP-3. That pod can engage targets 360 degrees but has a massive dead zone due to its position on the UBV
3. Scaptonyx-2A or Type A. This model is a troop/light armor transport and carries no weapons except for the same surface defense pod carried on the model 2. It is significantly longer and has more towing capacity. No 2A has ever been examined by the west but they have been seen transporting troops and light airborne armor. The ones subterranean encountered have deployed no weapon systems and therefore are assumed to be unarmed. However, they are frequently known to be escorted by other UBV into hostile areas.
4. Scaptonyx-3 Type A. The Scaptonyx-3A is the biggest of any known Chinese UBV model. It is the only model which is larger in diameter instead of just longer (roughly 60 feet), is 250 meters in length and has a crew of 150 plus a compliment of up to 60 marines. This model is the only known type that carries a forward firing torpedo tube (vehicle has to be stopped to fire). In addition to the forward firing tube, it carries dorsal, belly, port and starboard side torpedo tubes (4) each with an unknown quantity of torpedoes. It carries a special cruise missile in an internal bay as well as four surface defense pods. The model 3A is not known to carry any mine laying capability, not mine removal systems, relying on smaller UBV for support. The main drawback to the hulking craft is its poor water performance. Though it can stay submerged for an indefinite period of time, it very slow and very vulnerable to conventional submarine attacks.
5. Fire Worm Type A. This type is of an entirely different design that the Scaptonyx line. The Fire Worm is no longer deployed (or rather, detected) but its intended use was to create huge tunnels under the earth which would be filled with sea water. This was supposed to allow submarines a way to travel under land" and into large seas and lakes. Despite their calculations, this caused several large lakes in China to be completely drained.
The tunneling caused several major earthquakes and tsunamis from 1998 until the program was halted in 2011 after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami was after the 2010 Lake Michigan incident of Jan 1st and the existence of Chinese UBV were known in the West. Naturally, the public was kept in the dark on every aspect of the subterranean travel, Chinese or otherwise. Though accidental, the Chinese never accepted the blame for the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami nor any of the previous earthquakes and tsunamis which were directly attributed to large scale underground tunneling. China insisted that the UBV captured in North America was the work of an independent group of scientists and engineers working in secret, unknown to the Chinese government. The Chinese even arrested nearly a dozen scientists and engineers, claiming they were involved in development and production of the "single UBV craft", though some of the scientists’ fields were in no way related to subterranean travel or nuclear propulsion. These arrests were meant for the eyes of the Western intelligence community and were never made public. The scientists and engineers in question simply disappeared (presumably forced into other secret projects or terminated). China also argued that the UBV craft which was captured was much too small to cause any noticeable earth movement. China refused to pay for any damages caused during the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. This led to deteriorating relations between China and the West.
China terminated the Fire Worm program(s) and attempted to lead the West to believe that it was diverting the technology and it’s funding towards its moon base programs and away to large scale tunneling vehicles/machines. This was only partially true. The smaller, safer and more efficient Scaptonyx model UBVs caused less earth disturbance and thanks to their deeper tunneling ability, were far more difficult to detect. The disasters caused by the Fire Worm program perhaps helped set the stage for WW3.
The West, mainly the United States, took great steps towards early detection of UBV. The US constructed and deployed deep-earth sensors and top secret satellites designed to track UBV movement. China responded in the months before the onset of WW3 by sending out dozens of UBV-drones heading towards false targets. No one in the West has been able to figure out what these drones were or how they operated.
Type 105 Underground Mine. The Type-105 mine is a UBV deployed mine with a conventional payload. It has a dual use. It is used to create an underground shockwave to damage or destroy another UBV or it can be used to close up a tunnel behind the UBV to decrease the chances of flooding/surface drainage. These mines can also double as naval mines, with a variety of settings to account for depth and fuse.
Type 110 Underground Nuclear Mine. This mine is the same size and roughly the same weight as the T-105 and can be used from the same dispenser. This mine can be used to create small earth quakes, sink holes and small tsunamis. It can also be set close to the surface to destroy underground installations. This mine has no naval features such as found on T-105. Very few of the T-110 exists and only two have ever been recorded as being used. It is not common practice to find these mines aboard larger UBV since complications with such a weapon have led to the loss of at least one or both UBVs who have been known to use them. The danger involved in the T-110 deems them unpractical for use from larger, more expensive and strategically crucial UBV or in a fleet environment.
Type-3 Plasma Cutting Torpedo (PCT) The T-3 PCT is the standard Chinese subterranean torpedo. It replaced the Type-2, which was said to be much less reliable. This is difficult to imagine since the T-3 PCT cannot be described as reliable itself. The T-3 PCT frequently explodes before reaching the target. The torpedo has to stay in constant communication with the UBV and when this communication is broken (frequently), the torpedo digs wildly in random directions. As a failsafe, the T-3 has been fitted with a self-destruction system that activates after a period of time with no communication between itself and the UBV. The torpedoes are easily jammed and most Western underground installations maintain PCT jamming equipment. An experimental UBV belonging to the US (UBV-13 is rumored to be have been the craft’s name) was lost while carrying out experiments with captured Chinese PCT. The plasma cutter did not reach the required temperature, causing the torpedo to crush itself and explode right outside the dorsal area of the American UBV. The UBV was lost with all hands. No further experiments with Chinese made PCT were carried out and the US elected not to attempt to copy their design.
Yang Jian Base. Yang Jian is a deep underground UBV base operated by the PLA. At least a dozen UBV of various sizes are based there, miles below the earth’s surface. Many speculate that this base is the largest manmade object underground and possibly the deepest. No one in the west is sure how the structure is held together despite extreme pressures. Some speculate that the base floats in an underground lava lake and is constructed with some sort of unknown alloy. Size and location of the base are speculated on by the movements of UBV to and from the area. The base is also heavily defended both with underground mine fields and UBV traps. An electronic PCT “screen” surrounds portions of the area. One attempt has been made by the US to destroy this base using shockwaves from nuclear weapons. This attempt was unsuccessful and it was decided that the UBV threat was best dealt with only when necessary, due to rapidly depleting nuclear resources.
Post-WW3 UBV status. Roughly half the UBV belonging to China and the US have been either destroyed as a result of combat, depleted all ammo for their capital weapons or are MIA. Being one of the more expensive and likewise destructive weapon systems either country possess, their use has always been limited. In the case of the PLA, UBV have mostly been used to pave the way for invasion to compensate for lack of naval support. In contrast, the US has mainly deployed UBV in attempts to repel such invasions. The few that remain now are kept in reserve by what is left of main body of the remaining US government and the PLA seems to hold to the popular theory that one day UBV will be the only serious weapons left in the world.
Non-Chinese/US UBV Numerous UBV exists in the hands of various nations but none have been used in a combat role so far. North Korea posses a donated Chinese UBV (model unknown) but is said to have since decommissioned it. France had two UBV before WW2 but neither was used directly for military purposes. The status of the French vehicles is unknown. The UK had a fleet of five UBV before the onset of WW3. Three were lost to combat, one was reported MIA and their last UBV was stolen by a group of defectors fleeing to China. Little is known about the German, Russian and Italian UBV projects but each country had programs in place before the war.
Unknown UBV or Unidentified UBV activity. After WW3, remaining UBV saw limited combat. On several occasions both Chinese and US UBV encountered unidentified UBV in their fields of operation. This incidences were often dismissed as geological anomalies or equipment glitches, except of course when the unknown UBV engaged either side. Rumors persist of an unknown UBV type possessing fast, reliable torpedoes, superior speed and electronic jamming capabilities. Two UBV belonging to the US reported being fired upon by these unknown UBV, normally operating in pairs. One of the US vehicles suffered damage and was nearly destroyed. 3 Chinese UBV have been destroyed by unknown UBV, with no US or UK vehicles claiming the kills. Satellite data have confirmed unknown UBV surfacing in Antarctica by a UBV of a previously unknown type. During WW3, a Spanish oil tanker came across a surfaced UBV of unknown type and origin. No UBV activity was reported in the area by any country. The tanker hailed the craft but received no answer. It was still manned and shadowed the tanker while surfaced for 60 miles. During this time a nearby Italian cruiser was dispatched to the scene but by the time it arrived the unknown UBV had submerged and was gone. No sonar trace could be found by the cruiser. Presumably, the mystery UBV burrowed and disappeared, showing substantially better performance than any known military of civilian model in existence. Skeptics concluded that the Italian tanker crew had mistaken a capsized Chinese submarine for a UBV. A Chinese sub had been sunk in the area but its wreck was accounted for some 200 miles away, having gone down two weeks earlier. The Italian captain was a former naval officer himself and knew exactly what a submarine and a UBV looked like.