I would not doubt China's growing momentum in undersea warfare.There is
a strong tendency in Washington to rate the Chinese as poor mariners.
The purchase from Russia of eight "Kilo"-class diesel submarines,
all confirm PRC progress in undersea warfare, though do not match the
in its fleet of stealth nuclear attack subs.
China tests ballistic missile submarine
By Bill Gertz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
China's military has launched the first of a new class of ballistic
missile submarines in what defense officials view as a major step
forward in Beijing's strategic weapons program.
The new 094-class submarine was launched in late July and when
fully operational in the next year or two will be the first submarine
to carry the underwater-launched version of China's new DF-31 missile,
according to defense officials.
"When fully operational, it will represent a more modern, more
capable missile platform," said one official familiar with reports of
the new submarine.
A second intelligence official said building submarines is a top
priority of the Chinese, and the Type 094 will be "China's first truly
intercontinental strategic nuclear delivery system."
The new Type 094 was spotted by U.S. intelligence agencies at the
Huludao shipyard, located on the coast of Bohai Bay, some 250 miles
northwest of Beijing.
The submarine is in the early stages of being outfitted and is not
yet equipped with new JL-2 submarine-launched nuclear missiles.
The submarine is believed to be based largely on Russian nuclear
submarine technology, the officials said.
A CIA report made public last week stated that Russia was a major
supplier of technology to China's naval nuclear propulsion programs.
The launching of the new missile submarine appears ahead of
schedule. A Pentagon report on Chinese military power made public in
May stated that the new Chinese missile submarine would not be deployed
until around 2010.
A Defense Intelligence Agency report produced in 1999 and labeled
"secret" stated that the new submarine is part of a program by China of
"modernizing and expanding its missile force."
"Mobile, solid-fuel missiles and a new ballistic missile submarine
will improve the force's ability to survive a first strike," the report
said, "while more launchers, on-board penetration aids, and possibly
multiple warheads will improve its ability to penetrate missile
The DIA report stated that China is expected to field one new
ballistic missile submarine by 2020.
A Chinese Embassy spokesman had no immediate comment.
In a related development, U.S. intelligence officials said the
Chinese suffered a setback in their JL-2 missile program when a test
flight of the JL-2 missile failed over the summer.
The JL-2 missile program was delayed by the test failure but is
continuing to be developed, the officials said. China conducted tests
of the JL-2 in 2002 and last year.
Richard Fisher, vice president of the Washington-based
International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the launch of the
new missile submarine is "an astounding development."
"The 094 has followed 093 development far more rapidly than the
assessments in the annual Pentagon reports on the PLA," Mr. Fisher
said, referring to the China's People's Liberation Army.
China also recently launched a new attack submarine known as the
Type 093. Additionally, U.S. intelligence agencies were surprised by
China's disclosure in July of a third new type of submarine known as
the Yuan-class, a diesel-electric attack submarine.
"In the very near future, China will have a secure, second-strike
nuclear attack capability that it will use to bolster its nuclear
strategy of seeking to deter the United States from aiding Taiwan after
a PLA attack," Mr. Fisher said.
Mr. Fisher said the JL-2 likely will have multiple warheads.
The new submarine will make it more difficult for the U.S. military
to take part in a defense of Taiwan because of the threat of nuclear
retaliation, he said.
The Pentagon has deployed a new missile defense system, but a
spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency has said the current
interceptor system is designed to stop a long-range North Korean
missile, but not an attack from Chinese or Russian missiles.
A 1999 report by the House Select Committee on U.S. National
Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of
China stated that the new missile submarine will likely benefit from
stolen U.S. nuclear warhead designs.
The report stated that the JL-2 is expected to have a longer range
than the DF-31 and that 16 JL-2s will be deployed on the new submarine.
The range of the JL-2 is estimated to be about 7,500 miles, enough
"to strike targets throughout the United States," the report said.
"Instead of venturing into the open ocean to attack the United
States, the Type 094-class submarines could remain near [Chinese]
waters, protected by the [People's Liberation Army,] Navy and Air
Force," the report said.
The new submarine will be a major improvement over China's current
ballistic missile submarine known as the Xia, which is equipped with
The current Xia submarine is considered so noisy to underwater
detection gear that its chances of surviving attack submarine strikes
in ocean waters are limited.
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