November 15, 2012
WHAT CHINA’S NUCLEAR MISSILE SUBS MEAN FOR THE UNITED STATES.
The range of the JL-2 is about 4500 miles. That means the sub’s missiles can’t target the continental United States from the Chinese coast. They could hit Los Angeles from a position 1000 miles west of Hawaii, while Washington, D.C., would be in range only if the submarine could sneak its way to a position about 1500 miles from the West Coast.
That’s the trick for these subs: surviving outside Chinese waters. Japan and America have assets in the Pacific that could detect submarines; a Chinese skipper would have to hide from them to get close enough to take a shot at the continental United States. And Christensen cites Office of Naval Intelligence reports that say the JIN submarines are less stealthy than Russian submarines built two decades ago. “They are too noisy to slip through U.S. antisubmarine networks,” he says. “The U.S. submarine community trained for more than 60 years to track nuclear-powered ballistic submarines . . . Given that record, I’d be surprise if China’s would live for long in a war. To me, they would be sitting ducks.”
However, American antisubmarine capabilities have waned since the Cold War. The United States will be decreasing its number of attack submarines, but those that remain will be operating in the Pacific—the Pentagon has already deployed more attack subs to Guam and Hawaii. The Littoral Combat Ship, a troubled Navy program, is expected to have antisubmarine capabilities, but those ships (as the name implies) are made to dominate shallow water.
Furthermore, last week news leaked that the Navy plans to cut nearly one-quarter of its highly specialized multi-intelligence aircraft in the next few years, including the P3C Orion sub-hunting airplane.
Don’t worry, be happy. With the money saved, you’ll be getting free birth control.