Thursday, April 10, 2014
China's sub building is picking up the pace.
New Chinese-sourced imagery shows that the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) continues to modify its Type 041 Yuan class conventional submarine and that it is making progress towards a new large destroyer or cruiser.
On 10 and 11 December 2013 the first images of a new variant of the Type 041 - also sometimes referred to as the Type 039A, Type 039C or Type 039X - appeared on Chinese military web forums. It had just been launched by the Wuhan Shipyard of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), the major manufacturer of China's non-nuclear powered submarines. Only seen partially in these first images, a new image seen on 6 April shows the new Type 041 variant has a raked sail that is similar to recent German SSK designs.
This new sail design may incorporate an additional high-frequency sonar at the base of the sail, as do some other submarines with similar designs. This Type 041 may also be slightly longer than previous variants.
Uncorroborated Chinese sources have suggested that the new variant displaces about 3,500 tons compared to about 3,000 tons for earlier Type 041s. This could indicate that the new variant has more weapons - IHS Jane's Fighting Ships states that the existing variants are armed with YJ-2 (YJ-82) anti-ship missiles and a combination of Yu-4 (SAET-50) passive homing and Yu-3 (SET-65E) active/passive homing torpedoes. Yu-6 wake-homing torpedoes may also be carried.
The basic export version, marketed as the S20 and unveiled in February 2013, displaces about 2,300 tons.
Since 2004 12 Type 041 submarines are believed to have been launched, while the US Department of Defense estimated in its May 2013 annual report on China's military to Congress that production could reach 20 ships.