China is preparing to arm its Jin class submarines with nuclear ballistic missiles, cloaking the arsenal with the invisibility needed to retaliate in the event of an enemy strike, Bloomberg News reported.
The nuclear-powered subs could begin initial patrols with the missiles by the end of this year, “giving China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent,” the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission was quoted as saying in a recent report.
The submarines are expected to initially confine themselves to China’s coastal waters and the South China Sea where they could roam with little chance of detection.
Until 2006, China’s only ballistic missile able to deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental US was the liquid-fueled, silo-based DF-5A.
These were considered vulnerable because fueling takes a few hours during which the missile must remain in its silo. To protect them, China built mock silos and adopted a policy of secrecy that made a disarming first strike harder to execute, the report said.
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