Beauty Or Beast? China Flaunts Its ‘Most Advanced’ Type-094A Nuclear-Powered Ballistic Missile Sub In A Promo Video

Ahead of the 20th party congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), China’s national television network CCTV recently published several videos showcasing the power of the Chinese Navy, featuring submarines, fighter jets, and aircraft carriers. 

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One such footage, made public on September 29, featured China’s most advanced Type 094A nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine and Type 093 nuclear-powered attack submarine, reported SCMP.  

The Type 094A submarine, also known as the Long March-18, was commissioned in service on April 23 last year as part of celebrations to mark the 72nd anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army Navy. 

Since then, the submarine has never been seen in a video broadcast by a state-run outlet, making the latest footage the first to feature it. Chinese President Xi Jinping personally oversaw the launch ceremony for the Type 094A, which was launched alongside two other warships on the same day in 2021.

The Type 055 Renhai-class guided missile cruiser and the Type 075 amphibious helicopter assault ship were two other warships launched that day. The Type 094A nuclear-powered submarine is outfitted with submarine-launched ballistic missiles. 

A Type 094A strategic nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine appeared in a PLA navy training video aired by state media, ahead of looming 20th party congress. Photo: Weibo
A Type 094A strategic nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine appeared in a PLA navy training video aired by state media ahead of the looming 20th party congress. Photo: Weibo

It is an enhanced version of the Type 094 submarine that, by strengthening the hydrokinetic and turbulence systems, resolved one of the major problems—noise—and made it possible for it to carry the more potent JL-3.

The submarine can launch the Julang-3, the People’s Liberation Army’s most potent submarine-launched missile with a range of more than 10,000 kilometers. The submarine can strike the whole American continent, compared to its previous JL-2 weaponry, which could only hit the northeastern United States. 

China’s Growing Naval Power 

In a video made public by the Navy on September 28, a flotilla commanded by the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, demonstrated its combined operations capabilities. 

This year, the People’s Liberation Army commemorates the tenth anniversary of acquiring its first aircraft carrier. The Liaoning was put into service on September 25, 2012. China acquired the old Soviet model from Ukraine and restored it. 

CCTV produced a special report to commemorate Liaoning’s tenth anniversary, showing the carrier in full operation. The Liaoning was displayed “fully loaded” with 24 J-15 “Flying Shark” fighter planes, two Z-8 helicopters, and a Z-9 helicopter on the flight deck.

According to defense analysts, many fighters on board show how the carrier’s capabilities are expanding due to the Chinese military’s increased proficiency with carrier-based aircraft.

Liaoning commander Lu Qiangqiang compared the massive platform to a “human body,” with the J-15s serving as “the fists.” He said the carrier had successfully collaborated with other vessels on early-warning surveillance, air defense, anti-missile, and anti-submarine operations.

The SCMP, citing earlier reports from CCTV, reported that PLA pilots who had previously operated older fighter jets were also instructed to assist in the operation of drones.

The report further said that several J-15 fighter jets from the Liaoning were scrambled, simulating dogfights and performing maneuvers that would be deployed in engagements with hostile foreign aircraft.

Song Guangzhen, a PLA pilot who participated in the exercise, was quoted by Chinese media as saying, “[It’s like] I repeated [verbal] warnings and started to expel [simulated foreign aircraft] after I found my counterpart giving me unfriendly signals.”

The Liaoning aircraft carrier was shown with 24 fighter jets, the largest number of aircraft to date. CREDIT: Screenshot from CCTV report

He continued by describing that he later flew less than 100 meters from the “rival” plane to scare it away. The drill aims to show that China can now respond to provocations from foreign aircraft on the high seas.

Meanwhile, J-15 fighter jets have made headlines lately when CCTV broadcast a video showing two J-15 pilots scrambling at sea to ward off an alleged US-guided-missile warship. 

The J-15 fighter jet took off from the Liaoning’s deck in a video. A ship resembling an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer emerges momentarily beneath a Chinese fighter. 

Former naval instructor, Lu Li-shih of the Taiwanese Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, said that the CCTV reports and videos were political showpieces in preparation for the 20th party congress.

Jinping is the head of the supreme Central Military Commission and is anticipated to win a historic third term. “Weapon demonstrations always have political significance to help set the tone for big political events like the party congress,” Li-shih said.

He also highlighted that all strategic weapons, particularly aircraft carriers and submarines, received high scores for Jinping’s accomplishments during the past decade.