The Chinese People's Liberation Army-Navy recently conducted the first known tests of its submarine-launched Julong-3 nuclear missile, the Diplomat reported.
The JL-3 was launched Nov. 24 from a modified conventional submarine in the Bohai Sea, U.S. government sources confirmed to the Diplomat. The nuclear-capable missile's full range capacity is expected to fly more than 5,500 miles), which is significantly greater than the previous generation JL-2 that could travel 4,300 miles.
The Chinese government has invested billions of dollars over the last 15 years to beef up its submarine force, which could be capable of wiping out entire U.S. cities and military bases without traveling too far from the nation's coast.
The Type 096 nuclear ballistic missile submarines, which would be armed with JL-3 missiles, are expected to begin construction in the early-2020s, according to the U.S. Department of Defense's 2018 report on Chinese military power. The Type 096 would replace the older Type 094 Jin-class submarines.
"China's four operational JIN-class SSBNs represent China's first credible, seabased nuclear deterrent," the Department of Defense wrote in the report.
Authorities in Beijing have denied the missile testing.