China to send nuclear-armed submarines into Pacific amid tensions with US
The Chinese military is poised to send submarines armed with nuclear missiles into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, arguing that new US weapons systems have so undermined Beijing’s existing deterrent force that it has been left with no alternative.
Chinese military officials are not commenting on the timing of a maiden patrol, but insist the move is inevitable.
They point to plans unveiled in March to station the US Thaad anti-ballistic system in South Korea, and the development of hypersonic glide missiles potentially capable of hitting China less than an hour after launch, as huge threats to the effectives of its land-based deterrent force.
A recent Pentagon report to Congress predicted that “China will probably conduct its first nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016”, though top US officers have made such predictions before.