Rare look inside China's Type 041 Yuan-class AIP submarine

Martian

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China's Type 041 Yuan-class diesel-electric submarine with AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) is the most advanced conventional submarine in the Chinese Navy.

The Yuan-class AIP SSK can stay underwater for up to 4 weeks without having to surface and recharge its batteries (see citation below from Popular Science).

In contrast, the Chinese Type 093B Shang-class nuclear attack submarine is more advanced and can stay submerged for months at a time.
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There is a slight confusion over the nomenclature of Chinese submarines. Let me clarify.
The original Type 039 Chinese submarine was a cigar-nosed submarine.
The Type 039A Song-class submarine has a teardrop-hull shape.
The Type 041 Yuan-class submarine has a completely different AIP capability and should be classified as a separate family of AIP submarines.

Instead, we have the confusing formally-correct naming system.
Ignore the original Type 039 submarine and call the Song-class submarine as the Type 039.
Since the Yuan-class submarine is more advanced than the Song, name it the Type 039A.

Or you can use the Popular Science nomenclature, which I think is also inadequate.
Retain the original Type 039 cigar-nosed submarine.
Call the Song-class submarine as the Type 039A, because it is an upgrade to China's diesel-electric submarine fleet.
Name the Yuan-class submarine as the Type 039B SSK, because it is the latest upgrade to diesel-electric submarine technology with AIP capability.

In conclusion, you could just ignore the confusing numbering system (whether Type 039A, Type 039B SSK, or Type 041) and focus on the Yuan-class commonality in its designation.
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Photos of the day: A glimpse inside a PLAN Type039A (Yuan-Class) submarine


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New Chinese Submarines to Pakistan | Popular Science

"The submarines are likely to be based of the Type 39B Yuan SSK, of which the export version is designated the S-20. The S-20 displaces about 2,300 tons, but air independent propulsion (AIP) is not standard to the submarine. AIP a closed off propulsion system, like a gas compression Stirling engine or fuel cells, that doesn't require a separate oxygen supply It is a must have for modern SSKs, allowing them to stay underwater for up to four weeks without using noisy snorkels to recharge batteries (often SSK batteries have enough charge to last several days at most). Pakistan's S-20s are likely to have AIP since its Agosta 90B submarines already have the technology; the PLAN's 12 Yuan SSKs all have sophisticated AIP systems."

 

Martian

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Here are pictures of the Type 039, Type 039A Song-class, and Type 039B/Type 041 Yuan-class diesel-electric submarines.

I also included a picture of the Type 093 Shang-class nuclear attack submarine (SSN).

For your information, China's new Type 095 SSN and Type 096 SSBN should debut in the next few years.
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