Type 094 Jin-class Program
The 2016 "Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China" stated that "Four JIN SSBNs are operational, and up to five may enter service before China begins developing and fielding its next-generation SSBN, the Type 096, over the coming decade. The Type 096 will reportedly be armed with a successor to the JL-2, the JL-3 SLBM."
The overall size of the Chinese submarine force will decline as older boats are scrapped and new ones are built at a slower pace. There is unconfirmable speculation that as many as a dozen of these new boats may be eventually constructed, though other estimates suggest that 4-6 or 6-8 boats may be constructed.
Plans to deploy this class of nuclear powered SSBNs are said to have been delayed due to problems with the nuclear reactor power plants. In December 1999 it was reported that China had begun construction on the first Type 094 missile submarine, with preparations for the construction detected by US intelligence in November 1999. 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. At that time both the JL-2 and the first Type 094 were expected to be deployed around 2005 or 2006.
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. Priority had been given to the Type 093 nuclear-powered attack submarine. Although the keel of the first Type 093 had been laid, completion was not expected until after 2005.
On 02 December 2004 Bill Gertz reported that the new 094-class submarine had been launched in late July 2004. The new Type 094 was spotted by US intelligence at the Huludao shipyard, on the coast of Bohai Bay, some 250 miles northwest of Beijing. The submarine was in the early stages of being outfitted and was not yet equipped with new JL-2 submarine-launched nuclear missiles. The Pentagon report on Chinese military power released in May 2004 stated that the new Chinese missile submarine would not be operational until around 2010.
In March 2007 Seapower Magazine published an article based on information supplied by the US Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and subsequently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. According to ONI, while China only built a single XIA SSBN, which is equipped with a short range (1,770+ km) SLBM, a fleet of probably five TYPE 094 SSBNs will be built in order to provide more redundancy and capacity for a near-continuous at-sea SSBN presence. Construction and sea trials of the TYPE 094 program were ongoing as of late 2006, and at that time ONI assessed that a TYPE 094 could reach Initial Operating Capability (IOC) as early as 2008.
According to the US Department of Defense's Annual Report to Congress on The Military Power of the People's Republic of China for 2010, "China continues production of its newest JIN-class (Type 094) nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). China may field up to five new SSBNs. One JIN class SSBN has entered service alongside two new SHANG-class (Type 093) nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN), four older HAN-class SSNs, and China's single XIA-class SSBN." This statement is somewhat difficult to understand without further explanation, since a pair of JIN class SSBNs was visible in commercial satellite imagery as early as 2008. And the August 2009 US Office of Naval Intelligence report "The People's Liberation Army Navy: A Modern Navy With Chinese Characteristics" reported that China had three SSBNs, that is, one XIA and two JINs.
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 not operationally deployed. World Warships reported that all five boats were operational as of 07 June 2012, but this is not widely supported by other sources.
China had at least four nuclear submarines class "Jin" (Project 094), capable of carrying ballistic missiles (SSBN). As reported by local media 19 January 2015, because of the high security of the project, only three such submarines were previously known.
The submarine base on Hainan Island has underwater entry and exit, so if China based the Type 094 from this Island, in-port satellite imagery could become impossible.
The Pentagon projected that “China will probably conduct its first nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016.” However, the exact start date had yet to be announced. In late May 2016 The Guardian reported that Beijing was planning its first nuclear deterrence patrol. The newspaper quoted unnamed Chinese military officials, who said such patrols are the only tool to secure China from US’ weapons systems.
A piece in the state-run People’s Daily added evidence to the allegations. The report suggests that nuclear deterrence patrolling is essential to showcase China’s nuclear capabilities to the Americans. In the past, as reported, Washington politicians demonstrated ignorance toward Beijing’s nuclear potential. For instance, in the 2012 US presidential campaign, candidate Herman Cain stated that he was unaware China was a nuclear power.
Meanwhile, Beijing would stick to an "effective nuclear deterrence" strategy that relies on a smaller number of warheads compared to that of other nuclear powers. “As Sino-US tensions build, it is necessary for China to strengthen its capability for nuclear retaliation. It will help with balance in the Asia-Pacific region and enhance the US willingness to seek peace with China.”
According to the People’s Daily, China has been successful in developing nuclear technologies with launches of missiles from both under water and from land. The reports adds that the “survival capability of China's nuclear force” has been improved. “History shows that balanced power better contributes to peace. China should increase its number of nuclear weapons, and enhance their survival power and capability to hit the targets. It is the most important foundation of China's national security,” reported the Daily.
A new nuclear submarine has been turned over to the People's Liberation Army Navy, one of the largest State-owned naval shipbuilding enterprises revealed on 20 September 2017, but some experts believed that this submarine is not the most advanced Type 096, which is China's next generation strategic nuclear submarine. China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), which also manufactures China's aircraft carrier, posted the information in an article reviewing its achievements since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012. "The past five years since the 18th National Congress of the CPC has been an extraordinary period for the CSIC, with the handover of China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning to the PLA Navy, the launch of the first homegrown aircraft carrier, the completion of the new nuclear submarine and the deep-sea-exploration submersible Jiaolong…" the article said.
However, the article did not reveal the submarine's name and type. The submarine the CSIC mentioned could be Type 094 or Type 093, but not the next generation nuclear-powered ballistic submarine Type 096, since Type 096 is too advanced and not to be completed soon, Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the PLA Rocket Force, told the Global Times 20 September 2017.
By 2018, there were about six in service, with the numbered 409, 410, 411, 412, 413 and 414, having been launched in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.
From a purely military perspective, to maintain a convincing nuclear deterrent, there should be at least six strategic nuclear submarines, two cruises on duty in the theater, two round-trips between the base and the theater, and two deployment modes at the base. . The substantial increase in the proportion of underwater nuclear power will undoubtedly greatly enhance the safety and deterrence of China's strategic nuclear forces, and further protect against nuclear attacks and nuclear threats from other countries, and even prevent third parties from directly intervening in local wars.
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