The new JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is the sea-based variant of the DF-31 land-mobile long-range missile. Development of these missiles was accelerated following the successful test of their common 2m-diameter solid rocket motor in late 1983. The missile is apparently roughly comparable in size and performance to the American TRIDENT C-4 long-range multiple-warhead three-stage solid fuel missile missile that is launched from submerged submarines.
The missile will reportedly carry either 3 or 4 MIRV (90kT each) or a single warhead with a yield of 250-1000 kT. Other reports suggest that each missile might be loaded with as many as six warheads. Most reports agree that the JL-2 will ahve a range of about 8,000 km, while some reports suggest that the missile will have an estimated range at least 9,000 kilometers.
Some sources suggest that China tested the JL-2 in 1999, but as of December 2000, construction of the first Type 094 had apparently been delayed, and the PLAN had yet to test-launch the JL-2.
The first at-sea launch of China's JL-2 ballistic missile in mid-January 2001 was conducted from China's Golf-class trials submarine. The Chinese have modified the older Russian-made submarine, based at a naval port on the north China coast, for "pop-up" tests of the JL-2. The test involves ejecting the missile out of the submarine launch tube. China carried out another pop-up test of the JL-2 in October 2001. As of early February 2002 China was preparing to conduct another test of the JL-2.
On 02 December 2004 Bill Gertz reported that China conducted tests of the JL-2 in 2002 and 2003. The Chinese suffered a setback in the JL-2 missile program when a test flight of the JL-2 missile failed in the summer of 2004. The JL-2 missile program was delayed by the test failure but is continuing to be developed.
China test-fired a new long-range, submarine-launched ballistic missile on 16 June 2005. The missile was believed to be the Ju Lang-2. The new SLBM was reportedly fired from a nuclear submarine in waters off Qingdao, with the warhead impacting in a desert in China several thousand kilometers away.
This missile was though to be designated the CSS-NX-4 by the US intelligence community, but many reports suggested that it is designated the CSS-NX-5. The U.S. Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) published “Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat" in July 2013 settled matters by using the previously unheard of CSS-NX-14 designation.
The prospects for the deployment of this missile long remained obscure, given the protracted development effort of the associated DF-31, the initial deployment of which has slipped from 1998 to around 2003. Also worthy of note was the persisent absence of public reports of the start of construction of the Type 094 submarine that would be needed for the JL-2 missile.
On 02 December 2004 Bill Gertz finally reported that the new 094-class submarine had been launched in late July 2004. Construction of this submarine would constitutes a leading indicator for the JL-2's deployment schedule, since several years would be required for submarine construction, and probably an additional year or two for shake-down trials of the submarine, and testing of the JL-2 from the submarine.
In the 2004 edition of the US Department of Defense "Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China" the deployment dates for two new Chinese ballistic missiles (DF-31 and JL-2) had slipped from "mid-to-late-decade" [reported in the 2003 edition] to "by the end of the decade". In May 2008 a JL-2 was successfully launched from the 031-type submarine. In early 2009, the JL-2 was successfully launched for the first time by the Type 094 submarine.
According to the US Department of Defense's Annual Report to Congress on The Military Power of the People's Republic of China for 2013, "Three JIN-class SSBNs (Type 094) are currently operational, and up to five may enter service before China proceeds to its next generation SSBN (Type 096) over the next decade. The JIN-class SSBN will carry the new JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missile with an estimated range of more than 4,000 nm." The careful reader may note the reference to the JL-2 is in the future tense, suggesting that the DOD assessment was that this new SLBM was no operationally deployed.
The Julang-2 is estimated to have a range of "more than 4,000 nm" [about 7,500 km or 4,600 statute miles], which may bring Hawaii and Alaska (but not the continental United States) within reach if the missile were launched from a submarine in Chinese territorial waters. The U.S. Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) published “Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat" in July 2013 with a map depicting JL-2 coverage as barely reaching the Aleutians, and falling well short of either Hawaii or the continental United States.
The 2013 Report To Congress Of The U.S.-China Economic And Security Review Commission reported in November 2013 that "China’s Julang-2 (JL–2) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is expected to reach initial operational capability by late 2013. The JL–2, when mated with the PLA Navy’s JIN-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), will give China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent. The JIN SSBN/JL–2 weapon system will have a range of approximately 4,000 nautical miles (nm), allowing the PLA Navy to target the continental United States from China’s littoral waters. China has deployed three JIN SSBNs and probably will field two additional units by 2020. China also is developing its next generation SSBN, the Type 096, which likely will improve the range, mobility, stealth, and lethality of the PLA Navy’s nuclear deterrent."