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.
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)