China tests Type 039C submarine and world’s most powerful Stirling AIP engine

In December, a New Chinese submarine of an unknown type was seen in a video heading for tests. Sea trials of the new non-nuclear submarine began near Shanghai. The ship’s exit to the sea was captured on video and appeared on social networks.

The type of submarine built at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding is not named in the video. Experts believe it is the lead submarine of the new project 039С (designated provisionally).

China has produced type 039 submarines since the early 2000s. In October 2006, one of them unexpectedly surfaced at the distance of a torpedo attack next to the American aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, which showed the flag off the Chinese coast.

Type 039C submarine

Experts believe the new submarine type is equipped with an air-independent power plant and cruise missiles.

The submarine’s sonar is also believed to be new, with improved characteristics. 

The submarine’s primary weapon is assumed to be anti-ship cruise missiles based on the export version of the Russian Kalibr missile. 

The new submarine type was discovered at a shipyard in Wuhan (Hubei province) and reported by the “Canvas Defense” magazine, published in Hong Kong. 

Experts say that one of the unusual characteristics of the new Chinese diesel-electric submarine is the relatively high angle of the joint between the deckhouse and the submarine’s hull, which makes it similar to the German submarines of Project 212. The main task of this hull shape is to increase the hydrodynamic properties of the diesel-electric submarine during underwater and surface navigation and reduce the noise caused by water striking the sub’s hull.

China Type 039C Submarine
China Type 039C Submarine

Analysts at Canvas Defense have written that the new diesel-electric submarine is most likely a significantly upgraded version of the Project 039B (Type 039B) submarine, so they designated it as Project 039C. Over the past ten years, Chinese naval experts have repeatedly published very detailed reviews of the advantages and disadvantages of cigar-shaped submarine hulls. In this regard, experts note that the PRC has probably made a decision to design a cigar-shaped rather than a drop-shaped body of a new diesel-electric submarine. Also, the Chinese could install X-shaped rudders.

According to the experts of the magazine, one of the most important aspects of the modernization of the submarine was the installation of new weapons. According to the publication, the PRC has developed a multipurpose missile for launching from submarines with increased subsonic speed based on the Russian anti-ship missile (ASM) Club-S. This Chinese weapon is assumed to be installed on the new diesel-electric submarine. Experts believe it is used to equip Type-039B submarines, which China has been serially producing for a certain time.

Diesel-electric submarines “Type-039B” are equipped with air-independent power plants (VNEU). It is assumed that the Type-039S submarine is equipped with a similar VNEU.

The experts of “Canvas Defense” believe that in the near future the question of replacing the production of “Type-039V” with a modernized version of the new submarine will become topical. As an indirect argument, they point out that since 2012, no information has been received about the production of Type-039V diesel-electric submarines at the shipyards of Wuhan or Shanghai.

World’s most powerful Stirling engine

China claims that it recently succeeded in creating the world’s most powerful Stirling engine. This was reported by the Chinese daily Global Times on 22 December.

As per the Chinese mouthpiece, the engine was developed by the No. 711 Research Institute, which is under the China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited (CSSC). “The basic prototype of China’s first large-bore Stirling engine successfully conducted the recent performance test. The prototype ran at a rated power of 320 kilowatts with a power conversion efficiency of 40 per cent, making it the most powerful Stirling engine known around the globe,” the CSSC claimed in a press release published in its WeChat account on Tuesday.

The engine is still in the testing stage. The engine “laid down the foundations for its development of megawatt-class Stirling engines in the future,” says the company release.

“The success of the prototype is a milestone and a major breakthrough China … laid down the foundations for its development of megawatt-class Stirling engines in the future,” the CSSC said.

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