Type 092 (Xia Class) Nuclear-Powered Missile Submarine
The Type 092 (NATO codename: Xia class) is China's first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. Developed from the Type 091 (Han class) attack nuclear submarine with a stretched hull, the Type 092 carries twelve 2,500km-range single-warhead JuLang 1 (NATO reporting name: CSS-N-3) submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). The submarine is China’s first step to build a sea-based nuclear force, which can provide the country with the valuable ‘second strike’ capability. No further hull was built due to unsolved technical problems with the first boat. Currently the PLA navy is developing a new-generation Type 094 (Jin class) as a successor to the Type 092.
As China’s nuclear-powered attack submarine programme entered full-scale development in the late 1960s, the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine programme was also given go-ahead. In June 1967, the PLA Navy initiated a two-phase programme to develop the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. The first phase of the programme aimed to build a missile submarine based on the design of the Type 091 nuclear-powered attack submarine. Upon the success of the first submarine, in the second phase a more capable submarine with better performance would be developed. The first missile submarine was given the designation Type 092.
Construction of the first missile submarine began in September 1970 at Huludao Shipyard in Liaoning Province. The submarine shares the same hull design as the Type 091 attack submarine, but with a stretched hull to accommodate the missile compartment. Only 15% of the contents onboard the Type 092 submarine was newly developed. The most complex difficulty in the development programme was the underwater missile launch mechanism, which was designed and developed by Wuhan-based 713 Institute. Tianjin-based 707 Institute was responsible for the development of the submarine’s navigation systems (initial, stellar and satellite).
As a result of its tremendous technical complexity and difficulty, the Type 092 project has been trouble-prone since it started in the early 1970s. The construction of the first submarine was seriously delayed by the political impact if the ‘Culture Revolution’. The submarine was not launched until early 1981, ten years after the construction began. Officially the submarine entered the PLA Navy service in August 1983, but the test fire of the JL-1 SLBM did not succeed until September 1987. Even after it became fully operational the submarine was still reported to be trouble-prone due to its flawed design.
No additional unit has ever been built after the launch of the first and only hull ChangZheng 6 (pennant number 406). The submarine has been based at Qingdao Naval Base since the mid-1980s. Its operations has been limited and the boat has never sailed beyond China’s regional waters. The submarine received a major modernisation refit between 1995 and 2001 to be fitted with the new improved JL-1A SLBM.
With only a single Type 092 missile submarine, it is not possible for the PLA to establish an effective underwater nuclear strike capability, which requires no less than three submarines to guarantee that at least one of them is ready to launch at any time. Nevertheless, the Type 092 programme provided the PLA with invaluable knowledge and experience in the design and construction of the nuclear-powered missile submarine, which has certainly been used on the construction of the second-generation Type 094 nuclear-powered missile submarine.
The Type 092 missile submarine carries twelve JuLang 1 two-stage, solid-propellant, submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Each missile carries a single 25~50kT nuclear warhead. The two rows of missile launch tubes are situated behind the sail under the raised deck. The basic variant JL-1 has a maximum range of 2,150km with accuracy (CEP) of 600m; the improved JL-1A may have a maximum range of 2,500km with increased accuracy.
The first successful land test of the missile took place in 1981, and first successful underwater launch of the missile from a Golf class submarine took place in October 1982. The first successful underwater launch of the missile from the Type 092 submarine took place on 15 September 1987.
The submarine has six 533mm bow torpedo tubes, and carries a total of 12 Yu-3 (SET-65E) torpedoes (active/passive homing to 15km at 40kt; warhead 205kg). The submarine is fitted with a multi-purpose combat data and command system which provides information for submarine control and torpedo firing, and a fire-control system for SLBM aiming and firing.
Like the Type 091, the Type 092 is powered by a nuclear, turbo-electric arrangement, consisting of one pressurised water reactor (PWR) rated at 90MW, with one shaft.
||Type 092 Xia Class
Displacement: (Surfaced) N/A; (Dived)6,500 tonnes
Speed: (Dived) 22 knots
Missile: 12 X JL-1 SLBM
Torpedoes: 6 X 533mm bow tubes, 20 weapons; Yu-3, active/passive homing to 15km at 40kt
Radar: Surface search, I-band
Electronic countermeasures: Type 921A radar warning
Sonar: Hull-mounted, active/passive search and attack, medium frequency
Arrangement: Nuclear, 1 X pressurised water reactor (PWR), turbo-electric, 90MW
Propulsion: One shaft
Last update: 23 February 2009