May 2023

Quick Facts

Chinese/U.S. DesignationJL-3
Role and MobilitySubmarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM)
Designer/ProductionPeople’s Republic of China
Range10,000 kilometers
Warhead Type and WeightNuclear, 250-1000 kt warhead
MIRV and YieldMIRV Capabilities; Unknown
Guidance System/AccuracyAstro-internal, BeiDou navigation system / 100m CEP
Stages/PropellantUnknown, Solid
Status/Number of UnitsIn Service, Unknown


The JL-3 is the PLAN’s most advanced, third-generation submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), to be carried by its Type 096 SSBN submarines, which are currently believed to be under construction. Each Type 096 would be able to carry 12.

The JL-3 was first tested in November 2018, with several other tests later on. The current iteration has an estimated range of 10,000 kilometers, allowing it to hit the U.S. from waters off China’s coast. This is a significant change over the older JL-2s, which have a range of 7,200km. Due to the lack of Type 096s, the JL-3s are being carried by the PLAN’s six Jin-class SSBNs.

Strategic Implications

According to the DoD’s 2020 CMPR, PLAN’s six Jin-class SSBNs are beginning to conduct continuous at-sea deterrence patrols for the first time. This represents China’s first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent. China now has all three legs of the nuclear triad. Additionally, the range of the JL-3, which allows for submarines to be able to strike targets in the U.S. while in safe waters close to China is worrying.

Missile Threat and Proliferation