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China’s New Type-39C ‘Stealth’ Submarine: Designed For Special Forces Operations?

Though a flurry of information about the new submarine surfaced  some definitive, some speculative there is now more concrete information about the new submarine. Here’s what we know, a sort of “deeper dive.”

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See also Submarine Guide: Chinese Navy’s Latest Type-039C Yuan Class

The Type 039A submarine (NATO reporting name: Yuan-class) is a class of diesel-electric submarine in China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy. It is China’s first AIP powered submarine and presumed to be one of the quietest diesel-electric submarine classes in service. This class is the successor of the Type 039 submarine. The official Chinese designation is 039A as the ship is based on the 039 class, but as the 039A has very little resemblance to the 039 it is commonly referred to as the Type 041. The class is designed to replace the aging Type 033 Romeo and the older Type 035 submarines that previously formed the backbone of the conventional submarine force.

According to an early assessment by the US Naval Institute, the Yuan class was primarily designed as “an anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM) platform capable of hiding submerged for long periods of time in difficult to access shallow littorals.”. However, another assessment by USNI includes an open-ocean capability which can be utilized beyond coastal waters. Also updated was its role within China’s naval fleet, and as of August 2015 it is considered to be a more traditional attack submarine, with a secondary ASCM role.