Google Earth shows Chinese nuclear sub

A satellite-eye view has shown some particulars of a new Chinese nuclear sub, but doesn't answer a question about how many nuclear missile tubes it has.

A researcher for the Federation of American Scientists on Tuesday said he's spotted what appears to be China's new nuclear submarine using Google Earth's publicly available satellite imagery.

Google Earth shows what appears to be China's new nuclear submarine
Google Earth shows what appears to be China's new nuclear submarine. Federation of American Scientists

The Quickbird satellite photographed the docked submarine at the Xiaopingdao Submarine Base in late 2006, said FAS's Hans Kristensen.

The new Jin-class or Type 094 submarines are expected to replace the Xia-class, Type 092 submarines built in the 1980s, Kristensen said. The new model appears to be 35 feet longer because of a longer missile compartment and possibly a larger nuclear reactor compartment, he said.

The image doesn't have enough detail to indicate whether the submarine will have 12 missile launch tubes, as the Xia-class models do and as the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence said in 2004 the Jia-class would also, or 16 tubes, as "nongovernmental sources frequently claim," Kristensen said.

(Via World Tribune)

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About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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