January 2016 By Kristin Horitski


China/U.S. Designation JL-1/CSS-N-3
Missile Variants JL-1A
Mobility and Role Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile
Designer/Producer People’s Republic of China
Range 1,700-2,150km
Warhead Type and Weight Nuclear or Conventional/600kg
MIRV and Yield No MIRV capability/200-300kt
Guidance System/Accuracy Inertial/300-400m CEP
Stages/Propellant Multistage/Solid
IOC/Retirement 1988/Still in service
Status/Number of Units Operational/12 missiles “est”


The JL-1 is China’s first submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) with a range of 1,700- 2,150 km and carrying a single 200-500 kT nuclear warhead. [1] China’s Type 092/Xia-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) carries up to 12 JL-1 missiles. The Xia-class is China’s first SSBN and was launched in 1981, commissioned in 1987 and successfully launched its first SLBM in 1988. [2]

Strategic Implications

It is not believed that the Xia-class submarine has ever left Chinese coastal waters due to vulnerabilities related to slow speed, a noisy engine, and an unreliable reactor. [3] The Xia-class underwent a refit from 1995-2000, but it remained vulnerable to antisubmarine warfare platforms. [4] The Xia-class was replaced by Jin-class submarines launched in the 2004-2012 timeframe. With the Xia-class SSBN being removed from service, it is believed only about 15-20 JL-1 missiles remain. [5]


[1] “Chinese Ballistic Missile Models.” Nuclear Threat Initiative. July 8, 2015. http://www.nti.org/analysis/articles/chinese-ballistic-missile-models/#JL1.

[2] “Xia Class.” Military-Today. http://www.military-today.com/navy/xia_class.htm.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Lennox, Duncan. “JL-1/-21 (CSS-N-3).” Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems. August 28, 2012.

Missile Threat and Proliferation