How many SSBNs are China building?
The Pentagon’s new annual report on Chinese military power ignores a recent projection made by the Office of Naval Intelligence that China may be building five new ballistic missile submarines. The projection has since become a public “fact” after being spread around the world by news papers and private web sites.
Several news papers said earlier today – after the DOD report was leaked to them – that it identified the five Jin-class (Type 094) nuclear ballistic missile submarines. One senior defense official even was quoted saying that when the Chinese “develop five vessels like this, they are making a statement.”
Yet the DOD report does not say that China is building five SSBNs. In fact, it doesn’t give any number projection whatsoever. Instead, it repeats the projection from last year’s report that the first new SSBN may become operational sometime before the end of the decade.