China’s newest class of submarines appear to be getting a special upgrade for the first time: long-range nuclear missiles.
The head of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear III, told Congress on Tuesday that the ballistic missiles on China’s newest submarines would have an estimated range of 4,000 nautical miles.
“This will give China its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent, probably before the end of 2014,” Adm. Locklear told the Senate Armed Services Committee, Agence France Presse reported.
“China’s advance in submarine capabilities is significant. They possess a large and increasingly capable submarine force,” Adm. Locklear continued.
The head of the U.S. Pacific fleet said that within the next decade China would possess 60 to 70 submarines, with its JIN-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines armed with new JL-2 missiles.
The testimony came the same day that the head of the U.S. Pacific Command said that the U.S. Navy does not possess the capacity to conduct amphibious assaults in the wake of a crisis, as it did during World War II.
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