Chinese researchers involved in developing the most advanced JL-3 submarine-launched nuclear missile have been awarded a top science award.

The South China Morning Post (Hong Kong, China) said, the JL-3 missile research and development was in the list of 10 nominations for the National Outstanding Patent Award.

China has never officially confirmed the development of the JL-3 missile, but the Chinese Navy has tested the weapon. The People’s Liberation Army’s Rocket Force is developing JL-3 submarine ballistic missiles with a range of more than 12,000 km, which can reach US territory from China. China tested this missile in 2018 and 2019. Military observers said the missile test in response to US President Donald Trump’s moves toward China.

The JL-3 missile is intended to be fitted to the new Class 096 submarines by 2025. In the most recent test, in December 2019, China used the Class 094 nuclear submarine. However, the Chinese military intends to equip JL-3 for class 096 submarines and this process may take several years to complete.

JL-3’s predecessor, the JL-2, has a range of 7,400 km, deployed on the 094A Class nuclear submarine, for patrol operations in 2015. This weapon is a signal that China has own nuclear capabilities at sea.

The National Prize for Outstanding Invention was established in 2017 and held every 3 years. Individuals and organizations receiving awards in 2017 related to research on BeiDou satellite systems, Long March-5 missiles, etc.

According to China, the test of JL-3 missiles from submarines is not aimed at any country, only for defensive purposes.

The JL-3 missile is developed from the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile, which will become the main weapon of China’s future Type-096 strategic nuclear submarine. These missiles carry 5-7 warheads with a total destructive power equivalent to 240,000 tons of TNT. Chinese media claim that JL-3 has a range of 9,000-13,000 km, while some Western experts believe that it can hit targets at a distance of 14,000 km.

Each Type-096 submarine can carry 24 JL-3 missiles, enough to threaten almost the entire North American region without leaving China’s coastal waters. This class of submarines is expected to enter service in the 2020s, significantly increasing Beijing’s nuclear deterrent capacity.

The previous JL-2 version had a range of 7,400 km, equipped on the Type 094A nuclear submarine in 2015.

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