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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

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.

“The head of the Nuclear Research Division of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Hans Kristensen managed to discover a new nuclear submarine of the Chinese armed forces thanks to Google Earth. The submarine was photographed by the private satellite Quickbird at the end of 2006. According to experts, the object captured in the photo is a nuclear submarine of the 094 type - the latest submarine of this type in the Chinese naval forces. The boat was photographed by a satellite during her stay at the base of Xiaopindao near Dalian (Yellow Sea). Its appearance with a developed hump for missile tubes, the nuclear submarine resembles the Russian missile carriers of project 667BDRM.

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.

The sixth new generation Type-094 new strategic missile submarines was located in the northern mainland China Bohai Gulf a nuclear submarine factory built in the banks of the water. It is reported that the first batch of six new-generation 094 nuclear strategic submarines will be used in China's new nuclear counterattack strategy. These six nuclear-powered strategic submarines are expected to be all deployed on the newly-built Hainan Island large-scale submarine base. The newly-built large cave-type base can be able to park about 20 various submarines at the same time. Chinese media reported "If the Sixth Search 094 strategic missile nuclear submarine can be outfitted as scheduled, the CCP ’s efforts to build a new generation of underwater nuclear forces by 2010 will be achieved as scheduled, " This report seems in error, compared with other program chronologies. 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.

While the first of the five planned SSBNs of the new generation of the Jin type of Project 094 had been handed over to the fleet, the tests of the sea-based JL-2 (Jiulan-2) designed for this boat are unsuccessful. The missile failed the final series of tests, the date of commissioning of the project 094 boats with JL-2 was difficult to predict.

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.

By 2015 according to Russian media reports, in the past China had planned to build 5 or 6 nuclear submarines of this type. US intelligence agencies claimed that China eventually built five 094 nuclear submarines.

Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, U.S. Navy, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on 16 April 2015 that "China now has three operational JIN-class ballistic missile submarines (Type 094), and up to five more may enter service by the end of the decade." The subsequent downward estimate was likely due to the shipyard’s shift to constructing the Type 093 attack variants between 2013 and 2017.

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 claims. 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.

094 typeA suspected fifth 094 type nuclear submarine was visible in satellite imagery of the nuclear submarine construction plant in Huludao, China. The basis is that this photo was taken on October 10, 2013, showing a Type 094 operating in a dry dock, while the photo in February 2013 shows a 094 submarine docking at the dock.

Catherine Dill of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey suggested that two of China’s four JIN (or 094)-class subs “appear to not be in operation and are undergoing maintenance or repairs at the Bohai shipyard, suggesting to us that credibility is still in question.” Dill and colleague Jeffrey Lewis found that China had one more nuclear submarine in development than previously believed. They observed a total of five hulls in production, three at Longpo and two at the Bohai shipyard.

4 Type 094 at LongpoBut the anonymous contributor at offiziere.ch opined that " a categorization of blocks of activity was possible which suggests that the JIN did not return to Bohai from Longpo. This is a significant determination as the JIN visible on imagery at the fitting-out pier relocated from the shipyard’s fabrication hall. Therefore, recent analysis suggesting that the commissioned subs returned to the shipyard for refits or long-term maintenance is likely incorrect. Moreover, observers have yet to see a SSBN return to the fabrication hall for refits; most occur in a dry dock."

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 was 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, Chinese media reported there were about 6 ships serving in the North Sea and South Sea Fleets of the People's Liberation Army Navy. One sources reported that by 2018, there are about 6 ships in service, with port numbers 409, 410, 411, 412, 413, and 414, which were commissioned in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, respectively. But other sources have reported a much less regular numbering pattern and construciton cadence,

094 typeIn Novemer 2018, reported on "two additional Type 094 JIN-class ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSBN), satellite imagery from Planet Labs suggests. One Type 094 relocated from the shipyard’s fabrication hall to the nearby fitting-out pier in November 2017, while another relocated in October 2018." 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.

The 2019 edition of DIA's China Military Power simply stated: "The JL-2 SLBM underwent successful testing in 2012.... To maintain a continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent, the PLAN probably would require a minimum of five Jin SSBNs; four are in service. ... The submarine force comprises 6 nuclear attack submarines, 4 nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, and 50 diesel attack submarines. By 2020 the submarine force probably will increase to about 70 submarines." The previous 2016 report did note that China may produce a fifth hull before turning to the development of the next generation Type 096 SSBN in the 2020s. Previous estimates however indicated that China could build up to eight boats in the Type 094 series.

By some accounts, by 2018, there were 6 boats in service, with port numbers 409, 410, 411, 412, 413, and 414, which launched [some sources claim commissioned] in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, respectively. Another source agreed that there were six boats in service, but provided a rather more irregular set of numbers and dates.

China has recently commissioned a "new strategic nuclear-powered submarine", according to a 22 April 2020 report by the state-owned Global Times newspaper written to reflect recent achievements of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in celebration of the 71st anniversary of the establishment of the naval service.

Andrew Tate, writing in Jane's Defence Weekly on 23 April 2020, relates "The report does not identify the type of submarine but the description that it is a "strategic" asset suggests that it is referring to a nuclear ballistic missile-carrying submarine (SSBN). Although referred to as a new weapon, it is unlikely that this is the first of the next-generation Type 096 SSBNs. The interval between launch and commissioning of the first Type 096 could be up to four years and a new design has not yet become evident in satellite imagery."

The Nanchang cruiser was launched 28 June 2017 and commissioned on 12 January 2020, an interval of two and a half years. The interval between launch and commissioning of the previous Type 094 seems to have been about three years. Probably this mention of a "new" submarine references the sixth boat, probably launched in October 2018. Chinese boomer chronologies are singularly obscure, but to call the fifth unit, launched in November 2017, a "new" boat would be a bit of a stretch, even with Chinese characteristics. It may represent a seventh unit, but there are no contemporaneous attestations of a seventh boat. The first four units were homeported at the Sanya facility on Hainan in the South China Sea, but the fifth and sixth units were homeported at Qingdoa, the headquarters of the Northern Fleet. Possibly the intent is for the North and South Fleets to have the same number of boats, implying that one further boat would be required for a total of eight.

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Page last modified: 18-10-2021 15:46:53 ZULU