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China - People's Liberation Army Navy
Type 039A/B/C Yuan class Attack Submarine - SSK/AIP
type 039 yuan class attack submarine ssk aip china people's liberation army navy plan
Unit / Name
Type 039A
Name (Han) Builder Launched Commissioned STATUS
SS 330 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2006  ACTIVE
SS 331 PLANS ?   Wuhan  - 2007 ACTIVE
SS 332 PLANS ?   Wuhan  - 2009 ACTIVE
SS 333 PLANS ?   Wuhan  - 2010 ACTIVE
Unit / Name
Type 039B
Name (Han) Builder Launched Commissioned STATUS
SS 334 PLANS ?   Wuhan  - 2011 ACTIVE
SS 335 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2011 ACTIVE
SS 336 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2011 ACTIVE
SS 337 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2012 ACTIVE
SS 338 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2012 ACTIVE
SS 339 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2012 ACTIVE
SS 340 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2012 ACTIVE
SS 341 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2013 ACTIVE
SS 342 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2014 ACTIVE
SS 343 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2017 ACTIVE
SS 344 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2017 ACTIVE
SS 345 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2017 ACTIVE
SS 346 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2018 ACTIVE
SS 347 PLANS ?   Wuhan - 2018 ACTIVE
Unit / Name
Type 039C
Name (Han) Builder Launched Commissioned STATUS
2 unknown units in service Wuhan - 2021 ACTIVE
    Wuhan - 2021 ACTIVE
China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), Wuhan, Hubei Province, China
2300 tons (surfaced) / 3600 tons (submerged)
77.6 meters (254 feet 7 inches)
Beam: 8.4 m (27 ft 7 in)
Draft: 6.7 m (22 ft)

Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h)
Range: 6500 NMI (12000 km)
Complement: 65

Diesel-Electric + AIP
1 shaft / 1 propeller

6 x 533mm torpedo tubes
YU-6 heavy-weight torpedoes
YJ-18 anti-ship missiles (SSM)

Type 039A submarine (NATO reporting name: Yuan class)
... is a class of diesel-electric submarine in China's People's Liberation Army Navy. It is China's first AIP powered submarine and presumed to be one of the quietest diesel-electric submarine classes in service. This class is the successor of the Type 039 submarine. The official Chinese designation is 039A as the ship is based on the 039 class, but as the 039A has very little resemblance to the 039 it is commonly referred to as the Type 041. The class is designed to replace the aging Type 033 (Romeo class) and the older Type 035 submarines that previously formed the backbone of the conventional submarine force.

According to an early assessment by the US Naval Institute, the Yuan class was primarily designed as "an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) platform capable of hiding submerged for long periods of time in difficult to access shallow littorals." However, another assessment by USNI includes an open-ocean capability which can be used beyond coastal waters. Also updated was its role within China's naval fleet, and as of August 2015 it is considered to be a more traditional attack submarine, with a secondary ASCM role.


The Type 039A inherits the tail design of the Type 039 (NATO codename: Song class) with upper and lower rudders and sternplanes with a single propeller shaft. A pair of fairwater dive planes are positioned in the on the sail. The submarine is equipped with indigenously developed machinery rafts (shock absorbers) system that helped to reduce noise level by over 35 dB. Additionally, the submarine is covered with rubber anti-sonar anechoic tiles to reduce the risk of acoustic detection. A new improved "C" variant was also launched.

The Type 039A has six 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes. These can be used to launch indigenous torpedoes such as Yu-6 as well as Russian-made torpedoes. It is speculated that it will be equipped with the supersonic YJ-18. The general designer of the torpedo and missile launching system is Sun Zhuguo (孙柱国). The Type 039A is also believed to be capable of launching YJ-8X (C-80X) series anti-ship missiles. The missile uses inertial + terminal active radar guidance. It carries a 165 kg (364 lb) time-delayed semi-armour-piercing high-explosive warhead, with a maximum range of 80-120 km (50-75 mi) and speed of Mach 0.9. The Type 039A is also capable of firing the CY-1 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missile under water, but the status of the missile is in question because nothing is heard about its production. The CY-1 ASW missile has a maximum range of 18 km (9.7 nmi), and when using ET-52 or Yu-7 torpedo as a payload.

Combat control systems:
China was known to have imported the Thales TSM 2233 ELEDONE / DSUV-22 and Thales TSM 2255 / DUUX-5 from France during the 1980s and early 1990s. It also has access to a wide range of modern Russian sonar systems (MG-519 MOUSE ROAR, MGK-500 SHARK GILL) through its purchase of the Kilo class. Comparable systems are expected to be copied for the Type 039A. It is likely to be fitted with a comparable surface/air search radar similar to the MRK-50 SNOOP TRAY, a commercial navigation radar like a Furuno unit observed on a number of SONG class and ESM system is comparable to the Type 921A.

According to the Chinese newspaper Science and Technology Daily (科技日报), this 039A class is equipped with an air-independent propulsion system developed by the 711th Research Institute of the China Shipbuilding Heavy Industry Group Corp. Referred as a "specialized engine" in official Chinese sources. The 711th Institute was founded in April 1963, but it was not until more than a decade later, in 1975, that it ventured into the field of air-independent propulsion systems by establishing an office for a "specialized engine," setting up a team of about a dozen researchers.

The 711 Research Institute saw this special engine research process as an opportunity to train large numbers of technicians. Starting with fewer than 10 individuals at the outset, the project has grown to a team of over 100. In 1998, the first experimental sample was built and a decade later and after a dozen technological breakthroughs, a wide range of matured versions became commercially available and the newest diesel-electric submarine in Chinese navy became the first customer. Although the official Chinese source had not mentioned the exact class of the submarine, it is generally accepted that the class is no other than Type 039A Yuan class, since it is the newest conventional powered submarine in the Chinese navy. The engine is built by Shanghai Qiyao Propulsion Technology Ltd. (上海齐耀动力技术有限公司), a wholly owned subsidiary of the 711th Institute.

The Yuan-class SSK is integrated with advanced noise reduction techniques including anechoic tiles, passive/active noise reduction, asymmetrical seven-blade skewed propeller, the 039A is expected to be as quiet as other modern diesel-electric submarines, which are difficult to track.

A total of four variants of Type 039A have been developed by the first half of 2014, and they are listed here in chronological order based on their public debut:

Type 039A
Original Yuan class. The most obvious external visual difference between Type 039A and its predecessor Type 039/039G Song-class submarine is in the conning tower. The conning tower of Type 039A is similar to that of Type 039G, but the tower lacks the fin-shaped extrusion on the rear section of the conning towers of both the Type 039 and the Type 039G.

Type 039AG
This second member of Type 039A series is frequently but erroneously identified as its development, Type 039B, because externally, the two version looks the same above waterline. The only difference lies below the waterline, which is not readily observed, and it is believed that all Type 039AG have been converted to Type 039B. The most obvious external visual difference between Type 039AG along with its development Type 039B and earlier Type 039A submarine is also in the conning tower: the shape edge at the top of conning tower of Type 039A is replaced with smooth round shape transition. In addition, there is a bulge in the middle of the smooth transition in the forward portion of the conning tower housing some kind of sensor, and this is a new feature earlier Type 039A lacks.

Type 039B
This third member of Type 039A series looks identical to earlier Type 039AG from which it is developed from. The biggest difference between Type 039B and Type 039AG is that Type 039B has incorporated flank sonar array, which was subsequently retrofitted on Type 039AG and some earlier boats. This difference, however, is not readily observable because the flank array is installed at the lower portion of the hull. It was only in the early 2010s when a Type 039B built by Shanghai Changxing (长兴) Shipyard exposed in the berth, when the flank array of Type 039B became publicized, thus distinguish the type from earlier Type 039AG that lacked the flank sonar.

Type 039B (upgraded)
The fourth variant of the Yuan has been first publicized in December 2013, with a modified hull and redesigned conning tower with extrusion at the root of the conning tower in both the bow and stern direction, similar to that of conning tower of Virginia-class submarine. In addition, the bulge housing unknown sensor on board Type 039B in the forward section of the top edge of the conning tower is absent on the new boat launched in April 2014, but there are three white lines at the top of edge of the conning tower on both sides, presumably for environmental sensors. This new boat is claimed to be an upgraded variant of Type 039B.

Type 039C
Variant with redesigned stealth sail. First spotted in May 2021 in Wuhan.

source: wikipedia

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