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China is launching a 'trump card' nuclear submarine that could target the US

Navy Office of Legislative AffairsChina’s Jin-class submarine.

China is preparing to launch a new ballistic missile submarine that could potentially target the entirety of the United States by the end of 2015, Anthony Capaccio and David Tweed report for Bloomberg Business.

The deployment of the new Jin-class ballistic missile submarine will mark a substantial increase in China’s potential nuclear ability. The Jin-class submarines will be armed with the new JL-2 ballistic missile. This missile has a range of 4,000 nautical miles, which would allow the submarine to target Hawaii, Alaska, and portions of the west coast of the US from the waters off of East Asia.

Should the Jin-class submarine be capable of positioning itself to the east of Hawaii, it would be able to target the entirety of the continental United States for a hypothetical ballistic missile strike, Bloomberg notes.

The Department of Defence’s 2015 report on the Chinese military notes that the JL-2 missile will function as an extremely capable nuclear deterrent against potential nuclear first strikes or invasions against the Chinese mainland. So far China has commissioned four JIN-class submarines with a fifth one under construction.

Chinese ballistic missile mapScreenshot/Department of Defence

Beijing is well aware of the capabilities of its new submarine and is eager to play up the Jin’s abilities. The submarine, armed with the JL-2, is “a trump card that makes our motherland proud and our adversaries terrified,” Bloomberg reports Chinese Navy Commander Admiral Wu Shengli as having said.

China’s deployment of the Jin and JL-2 combination comes as the country radically overhauls its ballistic missile capabilities. Beijing’s longest-range missile, the CSS-4, has the potential to target the entirety of the US except for southern Florida.

The missile is nuclear-capable, according to the DoD report, and is housed in silos across the Chinese countryside. Beijing is estimated to have between 50 and 60 silo-based ICBMs.

Beijing also has a road-mobile nuclear-capable ballistic missile that is capable of hitting the majority western coast of the US and parts of the Midwest from China. As the missile is road-mobile, China can move it throughout the country to better target various locations and avoid possible incoming strikes.

China’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles reflects the country’s attempts to position itself as a respected international power that is not content with merely being a regional player.

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