The 2013 Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat Assessment, written by the Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center, did not offer a timeline for when the Julang 2 submarine-launched missile might be deployed on China's fleet of new Jin-class SSBNs.
Once the missile is fielded, it will give Beijing for the first time the naval capability "to target large portions of the United States from operating areas located near the Chinese coast," the service report said.
Beijing has had the ability for years to target the mainland United States with its arsenal of land-based ICBMs. The report predicted the Chinese military could boost the land-based portion of its strategic triad "to well over 100 [warheads] within the next 15 years."
The head of U.S. military forces in the Pacific in a Thursday press conference noted that while the Asian power is developing more long-range missile capabilities, it is focusing the brunt of its missile acquisitions on the ability to hit targets locally and regionally.
Such sought-after missiles "are suitable for the type of near-land issues that they ... in their mind, are ... going to encounter in terms of the defense of their homeland," Pacific Command head Adm. Samuel Locklear said. "They are the type of systems that are representative of a defensive nature rather than offensive."
The admiral predicted that in the future the Chinese gradually would "morph their military acquisitions ... to use things that go beyond their ... near shores."
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