China is apparently about to deploy or has already deployed its first Type 096 SSBN (nuclear powered missile submarine) that would conduct its first oceanic patrol in 2014.
Type 096 SSBN
Speed: 32 knots
Length: 150 m
Displacement: 16,000 tons
Depth: 600 m
Noise level: 95-100 dB (Type 094 115 dB)
Missiles carried: 16 - 24 JL-3 SLBM.
Each JL-3 can carry 5-7 warheads. There are three versions with different ranges:
- First version has range of 12,000 km
- Second version has range of 14,000 km
- Third version has range of 20,000 km
It is said the most important component of China's defense is the nuclear deterrence, and nuclear powered submarines are very good platforms for launching nuclear missiles because they are very difficult to find. With a range of 12.000 km, JL-3 SLBMs can be fired from anywhere in the middle of the Pacific and still be able to reach any part of the US.