Did China Really Test a New Submarine-Launched Nuclear Missile?

Michael Peck

Michael Peck

Security,

Fake news?

Did China Really Test a New Submarine-Launched Nuclear Missile?

Last week, world media was abuzz with reports that China had test-fired the JL-3, its most advanced submarine-launched ballistic missile.

But did it really happen?

Two anonymous Chinese military sources told the South China Morning Post that the test was of an older ballistic missile.  

“A missile test by the People’s Liberation Army on Sunday did not feature the country’s next-generation long-range weapon, but instead involved a mid-range Dongfeng missile refitted with improved guidance systems,” one source said.

The denials are part of a bizarre frenzy that began on June 2, when people in northeastern China reported seeing an object “with a glowing fiery tail streak across the sky” at 4 a.m. on June 2, according to China’s state-influenced Global Times news site. Convinced they had seen a UFO, they posted videos and photos on Weibo.

But Western defense analysts, noting Chinese maritime authorities had ordered the Bohai Bay area of the Yellow Sea closed to traffic that Sunday, speculated that the Chinese Navy was testing the JL-3. The first JL-3 flight test had also been conducted from Bohai Bay in November 2018. Once completed, the new missile, with an estimated 5,600-mile range, will enable Chinese submarines in the Western Pacific to hit the continental United States.

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