Modern day China is firmly entrenched in the business of designing, developing and - most importantly - producing of a myriad of weapon types for both local and foreign procurement. This is the case with the Type 039A (Yuan-class), a modern diesel-electric attack submarine that has been sold to the navies of Thailand and Pakistan while also having been taken on by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China. Some twenty total boats are planned for the class with fifteen having been completed and achieving active service. The first boat was commissioned in 2006.
The class is also known as the Type 041 due to its essentially all-new design apart from the earlier Type 039 boats (Song-class) detailed elsewhere on this site.
The locally-developed diesel-electric propulsion scheme utilizes a pair of diesel turbines for surface travel and battery packs for underwater operation. The combination system drives power to a single shaft astern and propels the boat to speeds of 20 knots under water. The hull can reach depths of 400 meters. It is said that the class incorporates a series of noise reduction systems and inherent construction techniques to provide for a small acoustic footprint.
Externally, the boats take on a classic submarine form with a forward-set sail, streamlined hull and cruciform plane arrangement astern. Internally, the boats are crews by a collection of 38 men. Its relatively compact design allow operations close-to-shore, acting as denial platforms for encroaching enemy ships. However, the boats also maintain a deep-sea capability.
The boats are armed through 6 x 533mm (21") bow-mounted torpedo tubes and these launchers can also fire anti-ship / cruise missiles as well as disperse naval mines to deny harbors and strategic passages. An all-modern Battlefield Management System (BMS) has been installed on these vessels.
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