Tuesday, January 10, 2012

MND closely monitoring Chinese SLBM tests [UPDATED]

After several years of delay, the PLA Navy could now able to launch submarine-based ballistic missiles at a near wartime frequency

The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said it was closely monitoring the situation amid reports that China had test-fired Julang-2 (JL-2, 巨浪-2) submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) before the New Year.

Chinese military bulletin boards recently lit up with reports that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy might have test fired as many as six JL-2 SLBMs near Dalian in Liaoning Province, China. At least two Type 094 Jin-class submarines in China’s Northern Fleet are known to operate out of Xiaopingdao Submarine Base close to Dalian (see satellite imagery below).

China plans to introduce up to five Type 094 second-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) armed with JL-2 missiles. Each Type 094 submarine can carry as many as 12 missiles. The JL-2, designed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp’s 4th Academy, is a solid-propellant derivative of the Dong Feng 31 (DF-31) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The JL-2, one of China’s three long-range strategic missiles, has a maximum range estimated at 8,000km and can carry a thermonuclear warhead with a yield ranging from 25 kilotons to 1,000 kilotons, or about 80 times the force of the nuclear device dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.


The state-owned Chinese-language Global Times reported yesterday that a Chinese fisherman in Shandong Province had retrieved cylindrical wreckage from what appeared to be a missile booster, which could provide confirmation of the SLBM test.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here. My coverage for Jane's Defence Weekly can be accessed here (subscription required). NOTE: While MND initially seemed to confirm in comments to the Taipei Times that the missile tests had taken place, it has since claimed that it neither confirms nor denies the reports.

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