Google Maps and Google Earth users now have the ability to
see a new high-tech Chinese nuclear ballistic missile submarine which can reportedly
fire intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to Hans Kristensen, a
nuclear weapons analyst for the Federation of American Scientists.
Kristensen found the Jin-class, or Type 094, nuclear submarine's image after it
was taken by the Quickbird commercial satellite late last year. The
Jin-class is the successor to the Xia-class submarine, "the
unsuccessful Xia-class (Type 092) of a single boat built in the early
1980s," Kristensen wrote.
The Jin-class submarine was photographed while moored at the
Xiaopingdao Submarine Base.
Using an image of the Xia-class submarine -- taken in 2005 -- Kristensen was
able to point out some of the differences between the Xia- and Jin-class
submarines. The Jin-class submarine is at least 35 feet longer than the
Xia-class, mainly because of an "extended mid-section" responsible
for housing missile launch tubes. The images do not conclusively
determine whether the Jin-class mid-section has 12 or 16 tubes.
China expects to build as many as five Jin-class submarines in the next few
years. China currently relies on land-based nuclear missile technology,
but the new submarines add an additional tool to the military's arsenal.
Images and technical information about the submarine can be found on
This may cause the Chinese military to become the latest organization to show
concerns over what Google Earth can reveal to users. The U.S. government
and Indian military
are both worried about the high-level quality of satellite imagery which is
available to users. A spy chief also
predicted curbs on satellite photos may be needed for programs like Google