China has unveiled a new nuclear submarine capable of destroying any city on the US mainland.
Until now, most US cities had been out of the range of China’s submarine-launched missiles because of the protective “first island chain” – a series of US bases dotted across the Pacific ocean that are all equipped with sophisticated submarine detection systems.
But with the launch of the Type 094A, or Jin-class, nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine on Friday (April 30) America’s first line of defence is no longer relevant.
The Jin-class runs quieter than its predecessors, giving it much more chance of slipping past America’s first line of defence, and can carry the JL-3, or Julang (Big Wave) nuclear missile that has a 6,200-mile range.
A Chinese military source told the South China Morning Post: “The Type 094A is an upgraded version of the Type 094 that overcame one of the key problems – noise – by improving hydrokinetic and turbulent systems, allowing it to carry the more powerful JL-3.”
“Before the upgrade,”the source added, “the submarine was armed with the inferior JL-2 that could only hit the northeast United States, but now it’s able to cover the whole American continent.”
Former PLA instructor Song Zhongping stressed that while China had no plan to strike the first blow in a nuclear exchange but the Julang missile’s increased range meant that any US first strike would be met with devastating retaliation.
“The new SLBM with MIRVs with a firing range over 10,000km (6200 miles) is the basic technical requirement for an upgraded Type 094 SSBN to cause nuclear deterrence,” he said.
“China promises not to use a nuke first but a powerful SSBN fleet will help the PLA strengthen their second-strike power against rivals.”
The Type 094A is one of the three new warships unveiled last week to mark the 72nd anniversary of China’s PLA Navy.
The others were a new guided missile cruiser, the Type 055 Renhai-class, and the Type 075 amphibious helicopter assault ship.
Tensions between China and the US continue to ratchet up in the South China Sea, mainly over the independence of Taiwan.
The independent state is the first link in America’s First Island Chain but for the Chinese government it's an important piece of territory that it’s eager to reclaim.
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