JuLang 1 (CSS-N-3) Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile
Official name: JuLang 1 (JL-1)
NATO reporting name: CSS-N-3
Contractor: CASIC 4th Academy
Service status: In service
The JuLang 1 (NATO reporting name: CSS-N-3) is a two-stage, solid-propellant submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) developed for the PLA Navy’s nuclear-powered missile submarine (SSBN). 12 missiles have been deployed by a single Type 092 (NATO reporting name: Xia class) SSBN since the late 1980s. An improved variant, possibly designated JuLang 1A, was introduced in the late 1990s. The land-launched version of the missile is DongFeng 21.
The JuLang 1 missile provides the PRC with the capability to strike back after enemy’s first attack using nuclear weapons. The deployment of the missiles on a submarine significantly increases their survivability, as even today finding a missile submarine prior to launch is proven to be very difficult. However, the JuLang 1’s limited range (1,700km) requires the submarine to leave Chinese waters to conduct a strike, which would significantly increase the possibility of being detected and intercepted by enemy anti-submarine forces. The PRC reportedly developed an improved model JuLang 1A featuring increased range of 2,500km. An ongoing SLBM development programme known as JuLang 2 with 8,000km range will replace the JuLang 1 in the future.
PRC began its research on the solid-propellant rocket technology as early as 1956, under the suggestion of Dr Qian Xuesen, the father of Chinese missile and rocketry. By 1960, the PRC was able to produce small-size (65mm and 107mm diameter) solid rockets. By 1965, the 300mm-diameter solid rocket was successfully tested and PRC scientists began to work on a larger 1,400mm-diameter rocket. The latter became successful in December 1966, indicating that the country possessed necessary technology to develop a solid-propellant missile.
JuLang 1 launch test (Chinese Internet)
The SLBM development was initiated in March 1967 for the Type 092 SSBN in development. The development programme skipped the single-stage missile and started with a more complex two-stage design, which offers longer range but is more technologically challenging. The proposed JuLang 1 missile design was approved by the PLA Navy in October 1967, and technical specifications were issued in 1968. In 1970, Huang Wei-Lu was appointed as the chief designer of the JuLang 1 SLBM.
The JuLang 1 designer decided to adopt the gas-propelled ‘cold-launch’ technique. In order to test the underwater launch mechanism, the design team carried out several hundred times of simulated launch using scaled missile mock-ups in water pool. In October 1972, a full-sized mock-up was successfully launched from a submerged Type 031 (Golf class) diesel-electric missile submarine hull No. 200.
By the late 1970s, the PRC had made breakthrough in a number of SLBM-associated technologies, including the lightweight nuclear warhead (600~700kg) developed by 14 Nuclear Institute; the guidance system developed by 717 Shipbuilding Institute; the onboard computer was developed by 771 Space Institute; the solid-propellant rocket motor by 4th Space Academy, the SLBM launch system developed by 701 Shipbuilding Institute, the inertial/celestial/satellite guidance system developed by 707 Shipbuilding Institute. The missile prototype was built by 211 Factory and 307 Factory. The construction of an SLBM test site with underwater communication and observation facilities and land-based missile tracking and telemetry facilities was finished in the early 1980s.
The test of the missile was to be carried out in three steps: land-based launch from a launch pad, land-based launch from a simulated launcher tube, and underwater launch from a submarine. The first successful flight test of the JuLang 1 missile from a land-based launch pad in the North Missile Test Base (Wuzhai Missile Test Centre) was carried out on 17 June 1981, followed by two successful launches from land-based launcher tubes in January and April 1982.
The underwater launch test was firstly carried out from the No.200 Golf class conventional submarine. The first flight test took place on 7 October 1982, but the missile lost control shortly after take-off. After some modifications on the missile, the second attempt on 12 October was successful. Preparation for the test launch from the Type 092 SSBN No.406 began in 1984. Between March and April 1984, four mock-up missiles were successfully launched from the No.200 submarine in order to test the underwater launch system. On 28 September 1985, a JuLang 1 missile launched from No.406 SSBN exploded in the midair shortly after the take-off. Two subsequent test launches also failed.
Despite the failure, it was concluded that both the SSBN and its underwater launch system functioned perfectly during the launches. The programme planner decided to go ahead with the full-range flight test as scheduled. Preparation for the flight test began in late 1987. On 15 September 1988 at 09:00 local time, a naval task force comprising the No.406 SSBN and 30 various support ships departed from their base to the test range in the Yellow Sea. At 12:30, No.406 SSBN began to submerge and get ready for the launch. At 14:00, a JuLang 1 SLBM was launched from the submarine, and few moments later, the missile’s re-entry vehicle hit its target zone. A second flight test carried out on 27 September was also successful.
A JuLang 1 missile carried inside a canister is being loaded onto the Type 092 SSBN (Chinese Internet)
The JuLang 1 missile uses a two-stage solid-propellant engine. The missile has a range of 1,700km (2,500km for JuLang 1A) with an accuracy of 700m CEP obtained from an inertial guidance system. It delivers a payload of a single warhead that weighs 600kg, which is believed be 200~1,000kT yield. The missile has no stabilising fins or wings. A Type 092 SSBN carries twelve JuLang 1 missiles in its missile tubes behind the sail.
The JuLang 1 is stored and transported inside a cylinder missile tube, which is loaded onto the submarine at its homeport before departure. The missile is launched using ‘cold-launch’. Firstly the missile is ejected from the submarine missile tube using fuel gas, with the first-stage engine igniting after the missile has emerged from the water. Because the missile does not have establishing or controlling surfaces, it completely relies on the swinging nozzles of its first stage engine to maintain its course of flight. On the head of the second-stage there are three mini rocket motors to help the stage separate from the warhead.
17 June 1981: Launch Site: Taiyuan (Wuzhai); Result: Success. Purpose: First land-based flight test from the launch pad.
7 January 1982: Launch Site: Taiyuan (Wuzhai); Result: Success. Purpose: Land-based flight test from the launch tube.
22 April 1982: Launch Site: Taiyuan (Wuzhai); Result: Success. Purpose: Land-based flight test from the launch tube.
7 October 1982: Launch Site: Bohai Sea Missile Range; Result: Failure. Purpose: First underwater launch from a Type 031 (Gulf class) diesel-electric missile submarine. The missile lost control shortly after take-off and was self-destructed.
12 October 1982: Launch Site: Bohai Sea Missile Range; Result: Success. Purpose: Underwater launch from a Type 031 (Gulf class) diesel-electric missile submarine.
28 September 1985: Launch Site: Bohai Sea Missile Range; Result: Failure. Purpose: Underwater launch from a Type 092 (Xia class) nuclear-powered missile submarine (SSBN).
15 September 1988: Launch Site: Bohai Sea Missile Range; Result: Success. Purpose: Underwater launch from a Type 092 (Xia class) nuclear-powered missile submarine (SSBN). This was the first successful JL-1 test from the Type 092 SSBN.
27 September 1988: Launch Site: Bohai Sea Missile Range; Result: Success. Purpose: Underwater launch from a Type 092 (Xia class) nuclear-powered missile submarine (SSBN). The second successful launch of the JL-2 from the Type 092 SSBN allowed the missile design to be finalised.
Configuration: Two-stage, solid propellant
Deployment: Submarine launch
Launch weight: 14,700kg
Range: 1,700km (JL-1); 2,500km (JL-1A)
Re-entry vehicle mass: 600kg
Warhead: One single 200~1,000kT
Guidance: Inertial + celestial + satellite guidance
Accuracy: CEP ~600m
Last update: 14 March 2009