The JL-3, or “Big Wave,” is believed to have been designed for the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s new Type 096 nuclear submarine and first tested in 2018. The missile has a purported range of 7,450 miles, enabling it to hit the United States if fired from the Chinese coast - much further away than the missile’s predecessor, the JL-2, which had a still-impressive 5,000-mile range.
Now, the missile’s designers have been tapped for the National Award for Excellence in Innovation, given to China’s greatest scientific achievers, even though the missile’s development is so shrouded in secrecy that Beijing has never actually said it exists, the South China Morning Post reported.
However, as the Global Times noted, Beijing has never said the JL-3 doesn’t exist, either, which observers have taken as implicit proof that it does. After all, what else could the series of tests observed and reported on, even by the ministry itself, involve?
China’s National Award for Excellence in Innovation was started up in 2017 and offered to the country’s top scientists every three years. In all, some 300 other scientists and teams will receive the prize, including medical experts and scientists who led China’s COVID-19 response effort, designers of a new type of space dock and the scientists behind the country’s first hypersonic weapon. Nominations are evaluated by industry peers in the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) non-governmental organization, which announced the recipients on Monday.