In 2014, a huanqiu.com report stated a US military officer said it was quite probable that China has completed its deployment of six 096 submarines. It is also reported that an 096 submarine launched a JL-3 SLBM from the Yellow Sea and successfully hit its target in Gobi Desert 8,000 kilometers away.
The 096 is reported to be able to carry 24 nuclear missiles and has other specifications that rival the 40 year old US Ohio submarine. U.S. defense officials have stated that it might begin its first sea patrol in 2014.
Thomas Spypek analysis “China’s Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrent in 2020: Four Alternative Futures for China’s SSBN Fleet” for the CSIS suggests that it is most likely that China would have four to six 096 nuclear submarines operational by 2020. Thomas M. Skypek is a national security analyst specializing in strategic planning, policy analysis, and net assessment. He is a 2010 Washington Fellow at the National Review Institute.
The Spypek analysis appears to be older and it seems likely that the Chinese 096 nuclear submarine development is more advanced and likely to go to the higher end of older estimates.
The chinese navy (PLAN) is close to deploying a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent for the first time in its history, the Jin-class (094) platform is not without performance deficiencies and operational challenges.
The U.S. Navy currently enjoys quantitative and qualitative superiority over the PLAN as well; it has a fleet of 14 Ohio-class SSBNs. But is it conceivable that the PLAN could dramatically close the gap by 2020?
With each Type 096 SSBN carrying 24 MIRVed JL-3 SLBMs, China would possess increased lethality over the Type 094 boats and boast additional penetration capability against potential adversary missile defense systems. The JL-3 will have a range of around 11,000km. A Type 096 boat could carry anywhere from 24 to 192 warheads, depending on how many warheads are deployed on each missile.
The quieter Type 096 boats would carry the more advanced JL-3 missile, which would possess a greater range than the JL-2. This would enable China to deploy its Type 096 boats into the Pacific Ocean without protective cover and have a reduced chance of being detected than their predecessor boats, the louder, more detectable Type 094 SSBNs. Conversely, the improved range on the JL-3, however, could enable China to adopt a bastion deployment strategy while holding a broader U.S. target set at risk.
If China had two Type 094 boats at a cost of $3 billion USD per unit and six Type 096 boats at $4 to $5 billion USD per units, this would require a significant commitment of resources over ten years. It could require a total investment of $30 billion to $36 billion USD from 2010 to 2020.
A Russian article analyzed China’s Nuclear Potential at the end of 2014. It said it will still take decades for China to establish sufficient second-strike capability. However, China has taken much less time to develop its nuclear arsenal than most Western observers had previously expected, though the People’s Liberation Army Air Force still relies on H-6K bombers and Q-5 attackers for nuclear strike capability.
While Q-5 attackers have been slowly replaced by the more advanced JH-7A, China is unlikely to develop a new stealth bomber to take the H-6K’s place in the near future, the article said. However, the H-6K’s range had been extended from 1,800 kilometers to 3,000 km and it can now carry six CJ-10A strategic cruise missiles, which would allow the PLA Air Force to hit critical US targets in the Central Pacific.
The article also estimated that the number of China’s nuclear warheads is under 2,000. However, only between 250 and 300 nuclear warheads can be transferred on road-mobile systems. At the same time, it also said that China’s has less than 459 tactical nuclear warheads. China’s nuclear forces are currently under close surveillance by US forces in Central Asia. Even though they do not pose a threat to the US mainland, they may still be a threat to Russia’s national security.
094 Jin submarine updated to hold 16 missiles
The 094 submarine was originally designed to have 12 ballastic missiles. There have been images of Type 094 submarines carrying 16 missiles. This suggests the 094 are being upgraded.
SOURCES – Want China Times, wikipedia, CSIS
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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