Tuesday, May 12, 2015
U.S. report: China's SSBN's likely to begin first deterrence patrols this year
Richard R. Burgess, Seapower Magazine
8 May 2015
ARLINGTON, Va. — China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) nuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) are forecast to begin strategic deterrence patrols this year, according to a new Department of Defense (DoD) report.
In a congressionally mandated annual report, “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” the DoD says that the PLAN has four operational Type 094 Jin-class SSBNs, which the report called “China’s first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.”
The patrols will mark the entry of China into the exclusive nuclear-deterrence patrol club, joining the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and France. India may follow in the coming decade.
The report also predicts that China may build one more Type 094 before switching to a next-generation SSBN, the Type 096.
The Jin class carries the CSS-NX-14 (JL-2) ballistic missile, which can hit targets at an estimated range of 7,400 kilometers.
The PLAN’s submarine force of all types is likely to grow by 10 to 18 boats over the next five years, the report said. The PLAN currently operates 62 submarines, including four SSBNs, five nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) and 53 diesel-electric submarines (SS and SSP). The report says the force is likely to grow to between 69 and 78 submarines by 2020.
“In addition to the 12 KILO SS acquired from Russia in the 1990s and 2000s, China has built 13 Song SS (Type 039) and 13 Yuan air independent-powered attack submarines (SSP – Type 039A) with a total of 20 Yuan SSP planned for production,” the report said. “China continues to improve its SSN force, and four additional Shang SSN (Type 093) will eventually join the two already in service. The Shang SSN will replace the aging Han SSN (Type 091). Over the next decade, China may construct a new Type 095 nuclear-powered, guided-missile attack submarine, which not only would improve the PLA Navy’s anti-surface warfare capability, but might also provide it with a more clandestine, land-attack option.”
China’s fleet of all warship types now exceeds 300 ships, although 86 of the ships are coastal patrol vessels.