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Chinese invisible submarine

 Chinese invisible  Diesel-Electric Submarine

  The Type 039 (NATO codename: Song class) diesel-electric submarine was designed by Wuhan Ship Development and Design Institute (701 Institute) for the PLA Navy (PLAN). Construction was carried out by Wuhan Shipbuilding Industry Company in Wuhan, Hubei Province and Jiangnan Shipyard Group Corporation in Shanghai. At least seven hulls have been delivered to the PLA Navy since 1994, with more expected to come in the future.

The first hull of the Type 039 submarine (pennant No.320) was launched on 25 May 1994 at Wuhan Shipyard, and started sea trials in August 1995. However, the submarine was not fully operational until 1999, reportedly due to serious design flaws, including unsatisfactory underwater performance and noise level. After some major redesign work, a modified Type 039G variant (No.321) entered the service in April 2001, followed by the second (No.322) in December 2001 and the third (No. 323) in November 2003.

On 3 June 2004, Wuhan Shipbuilding Industry Company revealed a further improved variant Type 039G1. Since then at least six hulls (324, 314, 315, 316, 318, and 327) of this design have been launched in Wuhan and two more in Shanghai-based Jiangnan Shipyard, indicating that the submarine design had been finalised and the series production was underway.

The Type 039 was designed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) using torpedoes and submarine-launched anti-ship missiles. The submarine is also capable of reconnaissance, water mine laying and patrol roles. The submarine itself is a blend of Chinese and Western technologies, and represents a major step forward in China's conventional submarine design.

Compared with the previous Chinese-built submarines, the Type 039 has a more hydro-dynamically sleek profile. To reduce the submarine's acoustic signature, the main engine is fitted with a shock absorbance, and the hull is covered by rubber anti-sonar protection tiles similar to those used on the Russian Kilo class. The submarine has a pair of fin-mounted hydroplanes, four rudders, and a single large skewed propeller.

The first and only basic variant Type 039 submarine has a stepped conning fin, with the bridge a step lower than the part of the fin that contains masts. This design was reported to have affected the submarine's underwater performance and noise level, and was replaced by a different shape with no cutaway on the subsequent Type 039s.


The Type 039 is equipped with six bow 533mm torpedo tubes, which are said to be capable of firing the YJ-8 series anti-ship cruise missiles as well as the indigenous Yu-4 (SAET-60) and Yu-1 torpedoes. The submarine carries 18 torpedoes, with 6 in the launch tubes and 12 on the weapon racks. Alternatively the submarine can carry 24~36 mines.

In the past few years, China has developed a range of new torpedoes for its submarine forces, including both wire-guided and wave-homing designs. Detailed information of these torpedoes is not available, but it can be certain that these torpedoes can all be launched from the Type 039 submarine.

The submarine can also carry 4~6 YJ-82 submarine-launched anti-ship missiles, which are carried inside cylinder-shape containers and launched from the submarine's torpedo tubes. The missile flies at a speed of Mach 0.9 over a distance of 40~80km to deliver a 165kg high explosive warhead.

Electronic Equipment

The submarine has a new digital bow-mounted, medium-frequency sonar for passive and active search and attack, as well as for underwater communication. The submarine is also fitted with an H/SQG-04 low-frequency passive ranging and interception. There is an I-band radar for surface search purpose. Countermeasures include electronic support measures (ESM), radar warning receiver and direction-finder. In addition, the submarine is fitted with an indigenous combat data system capable of multiple targets tracking as well as other functions such as surveillance and navigation.

Ship List

No.ShipyardFleetLaunchIOCType320WuhanEast Sea25 May 94June 99Type 039 Song321WuhanEast Sea11 Nov 99Apr 01 Type 039G Song322WuhanEast Sea28 June 00Dec 01Type 039G Song323WuhanEast Sea2002Nov 03 Type 039G Song324WuhanEast Sea?Dec 03Type 039G1 Song314Wuhan??2004Type 039G1 Song315Jiangnan?20042005Type 039G1 Song316Jiangnan?2004??Type 039G1 Song318Jiangnan???Type 039G1 Song327Jiangnan???Type 039G1 Song



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