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Xia class

Ballistic missile submarine

Xia class submarine

The sole Xia class submarine is slow, noisy and its reactor is unreliable

Entered service 1987
Crew 140 men
Diving depth (operational) 300 m
Diving depth (maximum) ?
Sea endurance days
Dimensions and displacement
Length 120 m
Beam 10 m
Draught 8 m
Surfaced displacement ?
Submerged displacement 6 500 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed ?
Submerged speed 22 knots
Propulsion one pressurized water-cooled reactor delivering 90MW to one shaft
Missiles 12 x JL-1A (CCS-N-3) SLBMs
Torpedoes 6 x 533-mm bow tubes for Yu-3 torpedoes


   The Chinese navy's SSBN programme began in the 1970s. The sole Chinese ballistic missile submarine, the Changzheng 6 is a modified Han class (NATO designation) nuclear-powered attack submarine.

   It was laid down in 1978 and launched in 1981. This submarine was commissioned in 1987. Its Chinese designation is the Type 092 and is designated by NATO as the Xia class.

   Construction of both boat and intended missile system was a catalogue of disasters. The Xia class is slow, noisy and its reactor is unreliable. The JL-1 missile failed on its first live firings in 1985 and it took three years to achieve a successful test launch.

   The JL-1 (CSS-N-3) has a single 250-kt warhead and its comparatively short range of 2 150 km would force the vessel to patrol perilously close to enemy shores. In fact the Xia class has never left Chinese costal waters and seldom put to sea before a refit that lasted from 1995 to 2000. It emerged from dockyard hands with a new coat of black paint - replacing the previous steel blue - a bow mounted sonar, redesigned missile casing that would allow for longer missiles and new firing systems for a different missile, the JL-1A, which has a reported range of 2 800 km.

   The Xia class also has six 533-mm torpedo tubes and carries a total of 12 Yu-3 torpedoes.

   It was reported that a second unit was constructed but lost with all hands in an accident in 1985, but Chinese secrecy remains at Cold War levels. A solitary SSBN has little strategic value but whatever plans there might have been to extend the Xia class have come to nought. Even if all systems are functioning, the boats performance is poor by modern standards. The sole Xia class boat would not survive long in wartime against western anti-submarine warfare platforms.

   A new class of SSBN, the Type 94 (NATO designation Jin class), is a successor to the Xia class.


Xia class submarine

Xia class submarine

Xia class submarine

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