On 02 July 2001 the PRC-owned Hong Kong Tai Yang Pao claimed that three "094" class Chinese nuclear-powered missile submarines, deployed in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Yellow Sea, simultaneously launched Julang-21A ballistic missiles against targets in the Taklimakan Desert [in Xinjiang province] 5,000 kilometers away. The launches were said to be part of the "Modern 1" exercise conducted on 28 June 2001. According to this report, the JL-21A ballistic missile can be equipped with 7 or 8 independently targeted reentry vehicles. The report claimed that by 2005 China intended to mount JL-21A missiles on six nuclear powered submarines, each carrying 12 missiles. All warheads landed within the radius of 15 meters demarcated for their respective targets, the Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily reported in August 2001.
These reports are at such great variance with all other reported information as to be deemed not credible. The fact of the existence of a "Julang-21A" missile is not attested by any other sources or reports. The fact of long range missile tests by China during the claimed timeframe is not supported by any other sources or reports. China certainly does not have three submarines capable of launching long range ballistic missiles. The PLA Navy has a single Type 092 submarine, designed to launch the medium range JL-1, and a single converted Golf class submarine used in the past for test flights of the JL-1. Construction on the first unit of the Type 094 class submarine, designed to carry the JL-2, began no earlier than late 1999, and this vessel had certainly not put to see as of mid-2001. The claimed accuracy of "15 meters" is evidently inconsistent with the accuracies that can be achieved with long range missiles, which typically have a circular error probable of no better than 100 meters.
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