China Conducts JL-2 Sub Missile Test

China carried out a flight test of its new JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile last month, highlighting Beijing’s nuclear buildup of missile submarines. The JL-2 flight test took place Jan. 23, according to defense officials familiar with details of the test.

No details of the test were available. China in the past has conducted JL-2 flight tests from the Bohai Sea.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeff Pool declined to comment on the test. But Lt. Col. Pool said the JL-2 was discussed in the Pentagon’s most recent annual report on the Chinese military as one part of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s “first credible long-range sea-based nuclear deterrent.”

The JL-2 test took place, coincidentally, on the same day that North Korea conducted what Pentagon officials said was the first flight test of a developmental submarine-launched ballistic missile called the KN-11. Officials said there did not appear to be any linkage between the two tests.

The congressional U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission stated in its latest annual report that the JL-2 is part of China’s expanding strategic nuclear forces and appears to have reached initial operating capability.

“The JL-2’s range of approximately 4,598 miles gives China the ability to conduct nuclear strikes against Alaska if launched from waters near China; against Alaska and Hawaii if launched from waters south of Japan; against Alaska, Hawaii and the western portion of the continental United States if launched from waters west of Hawaii; and against all 50 U.S. states if launched from waters east of Hawaii,” the report said.

The commission report said that despite uncertainty surrounding the number of Chinese nuclear missiles and warheads, “it is clear China’s nuclear forces over the next three to five years will expand considerably and become more lethal and survivable with the fielding of additional road-mobile nuclear missiles; as many as five JIN [missile submarines], each of which can carry 12 JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles; and intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs).”
China’s nationalistic state-run newspaper Global Times in 2013 published a lengthy article that stated that nuclear JL-2 missile strikes on the western United States would kill 5 million to 12 million people through a combination of blasts and radioactive fallout.

The article was later pulled from the newspaper’s website after reports about the provocative report were published in the West.

The Obama administration and Pentagon remained silent on the Global Times report. When asked about the report in November 2013, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert appeared to dismiss the Chinese submarine missile nuclear threat as not credible.
China was to have carried out the first missile submarine patrols with nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles by the end of last year.

However, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart told the House Armed Services Committee Feb. 3 that the first missile submarine patrols are expected this year.
Last year, China on two occasions deployed submarines to the Indian Ocean in what Lt. Gen. Stewart said were part of plans for boosting Chinese power projection.

“China continues production of JIN-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines and submarine-launched ballistic missiles,” the general said.


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