KUALA LUMPUR: The story below (courtesy of Federation of American Scientists) is a clear example of how modern technology has transformed our world.
What was used to be the purview of the military, is now widely available to the layman, with lower resolution and less up-date, if you look hard enough.
Are spies irrelevant now days?.
No, only modern technology allow Joe Public to look for information which in the past was not available.
Spies will be with us forever. Even Google Earth cannot predict when such glorious scoop will arise. It is simply pure luck that they got the pictures of the submarines.
But as someone more wiser than me once said: I realise that I get luckier whenever I train and work harder.
From FAS email newsletter.
A commercial satellite image appears to have captured China’s new nuclear ballistic missile submarine. The new class, known as the Jin-class or Type 094, is expected to replace the unsuccessful Xia-class (Type 092) of a single boat built in the early 1980s.
The new submarine was photographed by the commercial Quickbird satellite in late 2006 and the image is freely available on the Google Earth web site.
A Comparison of SSBN Dimensions
Two satellite images are now available (see figure below) that clearly show two missile submarines with different dimensions. One image from 2005 shows what is believed to be the Xia-class (Type 092) SSBN in drydock at the Jianggezhuang Submarine Base approximately 14 miles east of Qingdao.
The submarine is approximately 390 feet (120 meters) long of which the missile compartment makes up roughly 80 feet (25 meters). Twelve missile launch tubes are clearly visible.
The second image from late 2006 shows what appears to be the new Jin-class (Type 094) SSBN moored at the Xiaopingdao Submarine Base south of Dalian, approximately 193 miles north of Qingdao.
The Jin-class appears to be approximately 35 feet (10 meters) longer than the Xia-class SSBN, primarily due to an extended mid-section of approximately 115 feet (35 meters) that houses the missile launch tubes and part of the reactor compartment.
The extended missile compartment of the Jin-class seems seems intended to accommodate the Julang-2 sea-launched ballistic missile, which is larger than the Julang-1 deployed on the Xia-class. Part of the extension may also be related to the size of the reactor compartment.
The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence estimated in 2004 that the Jin-class, like the Xia-class, will have 12 missiles launch tubes (see figure below). Other non-governmental sources frequently claim the submarine will have 16 tubes. The satellite image is not of high enough resolution to show the hatches to the missile launch tubes.
The U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence estimated in December 2006 that China might build five Jin-class SSBNs. The estimate has been widely cited by non-governmental institutes and some news media as a fact, but the Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military forces from May 2007 did not repeat the estimate.
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