🧐 https://twitter.com/peter_dutton/status/1356290467776880644
Pentagon estimated in 2019 that China would begin construction on next-generation SSBN, the Type-096, in the early 2020s. If this is indeed an SSBN and not an SSN, looks like it is right on schedule.
If in fact an SSBN, key question is whether it will be armed with follow-on to the JL-2, which might allow it to be in range of the continental U.S. while on patrol near China’s coastline. Current JL-2s have range of ~7,000+ km.
Also, how much quieting has been achieved? Noise is key parameter for submarine survivability and previous ONI assessment said Jin-class is noisier than previous Soviet Delta III SSBNs, which were developed in 1970s.
A step toward continuous-at-sea deterrence? Only time (and good commercial satellite coverage/OSINT) will tell.
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