China has conducted the maiden flight test of the new JL-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) last month, Washington Free Beacon reported citing American defense officials.
The new JL-3 (JL stands for Julang meaning Giant Wave) missile will be deployed on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s next generation of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), designated Type 096 (NATO reporting name: Tang class). The missile will reportedly carry multiple nuclear warheads and will be capable of targeting most of the United States.
The test was closely monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies that detected the launch with missile warning satellites, according to the report. The report added that five missile flight tests were conducted between Nov. 20 and 23.
The report in the China’s state-run publication, Keji Ribao, stated that Chinese military experts believe the solid-fueled JL-3 will use technologies from the new DF-41 land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), and that it will be comparable to the U.S. Navy’s UGM-133A Trident II (D5) and Russia’s new RSM-56 Bulava submarine-launched missiles.
The missiles will reportedly have an operational range of 7,456-8,700 miles (12,000–14,000 km) and will be equipped with various missile defense-penetrating features such as a variable trajectory, a radar-evading stealth warhead, and fast burning rocket motors.
China’s current sea-based nuclear force includes four Type-094 (NATO reporting name: Jin class) missile submarines, each outfitted with 16 JL-2 ballistic missiles, with an estimated range of 7,400 km (4,600 mi). JL-2 missiles reportedly can carry 3 to 4 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) nuclear warheads.