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A new class (Type 094) is under construction and expected to becomes operational by 2009-2010. The first boat was launched in 2004 and first disclosed by FAS in July 2007 at Xiaopingdao Submarine Base Submarine Base near Dalain via a commercial satellite image taken in October 2006. Another sattelite image taken in May 2007 and first described in October 2007 showed two partially assembled Jin-class SSBNs at Bohai Shipyard near Huludao. Whether China at that point had launched two or three boats remains unclear, but U.S. Naval Intelligence estimated in 2006 that “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.” The 2008 DOD report on Chinese military power predicted that China “will likely” have “up to five JIN-class SSBNs” by 2010.
Rumors have existed for some time that the TYPE 094 incorporates some Russian technology and is expected to be a dramatic improvement over the sole Xia class SSBN, with improved quieting and sensor systems, and a more reliable propulsion system. This, combined with improvements in sonar, propulsion, training, and the application of quieting techniques, has been expected to contribute to a significant improvement in the capabilities of China’s submarine fleet. Yet the satellite images show that the outer hull of TYPE 094 is very similar to the Xia, although approximately 10 meters longer, and that early artistic outlines were generally wrong about both the design and the number of missiles.
Each of the Type 094 SSBNs will mount 12 JL-2 ballistic missiles (derived from the DF-31) with a range of 7,200 kms. When deployed, this missile will not be able to target the Continental United States from operating areas near the Chinese coast, but probably have a regional deterrent mission. Given that China has essentially no experience in operating SSBNs, and that deployments far from the Chinese coast will be inherently difficult and risky, the TYPE 094 will probably operate close to home. In late 2007 or early 2008, the first TYPE 094 deployed to Yulin Naval Base on Hainan Island in the South China Sea. The base has an underground cave and a demagnitizing facility for submarines.
|SLBM - 12 JL-2
|6 - 533 mm bow tubes