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Satellite Images Provide Insight Into Chinese Ballistic Missile Submarine Capabilities From Monday, March 3, 2008 issue.

Satellite Images Provide Insight Into Chinese Ballistic Missile Submarine Capabilities


Commercial satellite images of two ballistic missile submarines docked in a Chinese shipyard provide some insight regarding Beijing�s limited success in developing new submarine technology over the last 30 years, United Press International reported Friday (see GSN, Oct. 5, 2007).

The hull of China�s Type 094 Jin-class ballistic missile submarine has been upgraded from the hull of its predecessor, the Type 092, revealing that its basic design has not changed.

The raised angle of the Type 094 submarine�s missile-firing compartment suggests it has been equipped to launch China�s JL2 ballistic missile, which has a range of nearly 5,000 miles.However, the submarine is not believed to have test-launched the JL2, fitting with a U.S. intelligence determination that the missile is not yet operational.

The Chinese submarine has 12 missile-launch compartments, potentially limiting Beijing�s deterrent capacity against modern U.S. and European submarines that now house between 16 and 24 launch compartments.The number of nuclear missiles held on the Chinese submarines compare to the weapon capacities of their U.S. and Soviet counterparts in the late 1960s.

Beijing has released pictures of a nuclear weapon-capable submarine that would hold 24 ballistic missiles, suggesting a possible design for China�s next-generation Type 096 submarine.However, the submarine�s design otherwise remains similar to current and past models.

The designs of the Type 093, China�s new nuclear-powered attack submarine, and the Type 094 suggest that Russia did not play a role in designing the Chinese vessels (Andrei Chang, United Press International, Feb. 29).


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