The Chinese are preparing to deploy submarines armed with nuclear missiles that will patrol the northern Pacific Ocean and come within range of at least two US states, according to a new report from the US Navy.
The US Naval Institute (USNI) reported that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has tapped the Jin-class nuclear ballistic submarines to begin patrols in 2014. The subs will carry intercontinental range missiles that are thought to have a range of no less than 14,000 kilometers (8,699 miles) and can deliver a single or multiple warheads.
“With a range in excess of 4,000 [nautical miles], the JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM), will enable the JIN to strike Hawaii, Alaska and possibly western portions of CONUS from East Asian waters,” Office of Naval Intelligence Officer Jesse Karotkin wrote in his testimony last month to the US China Economic Security Review Commission.
The new Jin-class Type 094 submarines are a technological marvel when compared to the Type 092 class that the PLAN has traditionally relied upon. Weighing 11,000 tons when fully submerged, the Navy sees this development as proof that the Chinese “want to get more on par with Western countries.”
“The three JIN [ballistic missile submarines] currently in service would be insufficient to maintain a constant at-sea presence for extended periods of time, but if the PLA Navy builds five units as some sources suggest, a continuous peacetime presence may become a viable option for the PLAN,” Karotkin noted.