According to information released by Chinamil on August 18, 2022, a diesel-electric submarine (which may be Type 039B) attached to a submarine flotilla with the Navy under the PLA Northern Theater Command sailed into a sea area during of a maritime training exercise.
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Possibly a Chinese Type 039B submarine (Image source: Chinamil)
The Type 039B submarine is a conventional AIP submarine developed and built on the basis of the Type 039A submarine. The first submarine of this class was launched at the end of 2013. It features several major improvements and upgrades.
First, the boat has an elongated hull with a long teardrop design, which is more suitable for the ocean combat environment. It is relatively long and has a proportionally large length and width.
The main purpose of this design is to provide larger internal space, which allows easier installation of hull equipment and more load to improve the working environment of the crew, but the disadvantage is that the Navigational resistance has increased, which also impacts the maneuverability of the submarine.
Second, the power system continues to be optimized and upgraded, based on localized Stirling engine technology, and boldly improved to improve engine power and reliability. The AIP system is a Stirling engine, which has further improved the underwater combat and quiet performance of the submarine compared to the 039A system.
Third, the hydroacoustic system has been improved. The hydroacoustic system is the “eyes and ears” of the submarine and has been one of the shortcomings of Chinese underwater technology.
To support the use of the new Fish-6 heavy torpedo, the Type 039B submarine is also equipped with a more comprehensive hydroacoustic system, with a larger sonar array installed on the bow of the boat.
Due to the long range of the fish-6, the arc array sonar is required to provide a fire control solution and target indication for torpedoes within the maximum range, which requires a wider base array to improve the sonar detection distance. Working frequency, improve the detection distance.
The backbone of the Chinese Navy’s ocean operations, the Type 039B submarine can be brought up against the most advanced nuclear attack submarines and conventional submarines in the world, so it still needs to be improved in terms of silence, firstly by optimizing the shape, including the previously mentioned optimization of the command bridge enclosure design, and also by fitting the hull with anechoic tiles.