Military Review

Diesel-electric competitor from China: S20 submarine

At the recent international exhibitions of military equipment IDEX-2013 and LIMA-2013, China presented its new project, designed specifically for export deliveries. Chinese shipbuilders showed the general public a new non-nuclear submarine of the S20 project. So far, no country has shown a desire to acquire such a submarine, but in the near future it is possible to begin negotiations with the subsequent signing of a contract. Thus, China in the very near future can replenish the list of countries that make non-nuclear submarines for sale for export.

According to open data, the S20 project is a reduced submarine of the previous 041 project (Yuan class according to NATO classification). About the existence of the project 041 became known about nine years ago. In the first months of 2004, United States intelligence officers published satellite photographs of the Wuhan Shipyard shipyard located in Wuhan. At one of the open sites of the enterprise there was some previously unnoticed submarine. Soon, more detailed information appeared, such as the name of the project or approximate characteristics. According to American analysts, the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) needs about fifteen such submarines.

Diesel-electric competitor from China: S20 submarine
Project 041

Subsequently, the situation with the Yuan submarines developed like a game of hide and seek. Just a few months after the discovery of the head boat of the project, new information ceased to arrive. The submarine was launched, after which for a couple of years nothing was known about the fate of the 041 project. Such a loss of the head boat is easy to explain: satellite intelligence cannot guarantee to find submarines in the ocean. Therefore, the search for the Yuan head-launched submarine, which had been tested, became the task of anti-submarine defense. The satellites, in turn, continued to monitor the situation at the shipyards.

In the autumn of 2007, two new submarines were spotted at the shipyard in Wuhan, which in a few months also came to the test. At the end of 2010, the plant had three unfinished submarines at once, one of which soon went to sea. Since then, from time to time there are new information about the construction or repair of new submarines. For example, last year the submarine 041, which is under construction or undergoing renovation, was spotted at the Changxingdao plant in Shanghai. The details of her stay there have not yet been made public.

In total, in nine years, China built no more than eight diesel-electric submarines of the 041 project. The first of them joined the Navy no earlier than 2006 of the year, and by now four or five boats have entered the service. An interesting feature of the 041 project is the fact that, by a large number of characteristics, it corresponds to the Soviet / Russian project 877EKM “Paltus”. Thus, the version according to which the new Chinese diesel-electric submarines are in fact significantly processed copies of Russia has the right to life. This assumption is also supported by the presence in the PLA Navy of several “Halibuses” set back in the mid-nineties, i.e. shortly before the start of the development of the project 041.

Possible Russian "roots" of Chinese submarines attract attention and seriously complicate the situation. If the development of submarines "041" really used the Soviet and Russian technologies, then this may be the reason for the international scandal. All the diesel-electric submarines of the 877ECM project for China were built in Russia and the contract did not provide any additional conditions for the transfer of technology. Now, it seems, China is going to use Russian developments for the construction of submarines not only for themselves, but also for third countries.

Since the S20 submarines are already being offered for export, and their layouts have been demonstrated at international exhibitions, some characteristics of promising ships are known. S20 is a two-part submarine 66 meters long. The maximum width of the boat is about eight meters, the draft is 8,2. The declared displacement of new submarines in the surface position does not exceed 1850 tons, in the submarine - 2300. The strength of the body is enough to dive to the maximum depth in 300 meters. The maximum travel speed does not exceed 17-18 knots, which is slightly higher than the cruising speed in 16 knots. When driving on economical modes, the submarine is able to travel up to eight thousand nautical miles. There is enough fuel and food for the 60-day hike. The crew of the S20 submarines consists of a 38 man.

As well as the submarines under construction of the 041 project, the S20 will be equipped with six torpedo tubes of a millimeter 533 caliber. Probably, export boats will also have the opportunity to attack enemy targets with anti-ship missiles YJ-8X, designed to launch through a torpedo tube. In this case, the project S20 in its combat capabilities can come close to the Russian project 877 / 636, the German 212 and Dolphin, etc.

Of particular interest is the power plant project S20. According to reports, these submarines are planned to be equipped with a diesel-electric power plant with full electric propulsion. In this case, the operation of submarines will be imposed some restrictions. Therefore, Chinese shipbuilders are already claiming that in the future S20 will receive a new air-independent power plant (VNEU). At the same time, its specific type has not yet been named. So it could be a fuel cell system, a closed-type steam turbine power plant, or even a Stirling engine, like on the Swedish submarines of the Gotland project. It is worth noting that the creation of an air-independent power plant for non-nuclear submarines - for all its prospects - is a very difficult task. Not all leading countries of the world have such technologies. Therefore, China, having created its own VNEU, is able to take a leading position in the field of non-nuclear submarines.

With certain reservations, it is already possible to recognize the S20 project as a competitor of the Russian Amur-1650. Both promising submarines have similar characteristics and common features of the appearance. In this case, there are noticeable differences, for example, different displacement. Nevertheless, both new submarines claim the same tactical niche, which in the future will entail competition in the international market. Russian submarines probably have an advantage over the Chinese, because potential customers learned about them much earlier than about the Chinese. To date, several countries are already considering the purchase of Amur-1650 submarines. Chinese shipbuilders, in turn, have so far to advertise their products and attract the attention of potential buyers. In addition, the advantage of Russian submarines can be considered a different composition of weapons and already developed air-independent power plant. Thus, even when China creates several new systems, the final customer choice between Amur-1650 and S20 will not be obvious. This gives a certain hope, but does not allow to relax. For successful competition with foreign developments, not only Chinese ones, it is necessary to continue the development of domestic non-nuclear submarines intended for export delivery.

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  1. self-propelled
    self-propelled April 18 2013 08: 10 New
    "... An interesting feature of the 041 project is the fact that by a large number of characteristics it corresponds to the Soviet / Russian project 877EKM" Halibut "..."
    recalls the story of the Su-27 and J-11. Now they have also agreed on the supply of Su-35. what's happening? I understand that designing and copying are two big differences. but still ... the Chinese are learning fast. and, despite some problems (for example, how to create modern engines for their fighters), they create modern weapons ...
    1. Russian
      Russian April 18 2013 10: 49 New
      Got Game! They are already starting to compete with us! But our officials will probably come to their senses only when we start to lose the tender, after the tender, because China will have a price much lower. Only then, when they begin to lose money and come to their senses, it will only be too late.
      1. svp67
        svp67 April 18 2013 11: 35 New
        Quote: р_у_с_с_к_и_й
        Got Game! They are already starting to compete with us! But our officials will probably come to their senses only when we start to lose the tender, after the tender, because China will have a price much lower. Only then, when they begin to lose money and come to their senses, it will only be too late.

        The STATE will lose money, and the official who sold our weapons in this way will get his ...
        1. Russian
          Russian April 18 2013 14: 16 New
          Precisely noticed! A little not so put it.
          And after us, although the grass does not grow, it is about them. No concern for the interests of our country.
      2. svp67
        svp67 April 18 2013 11: 56 New
        Quote: р_у_с_с_к_и_й
        Got Game! They are already starting to compete with us! But our officials will probably come to their senses only when we start to lose the tender, after the tender, because China will have a price much lower.

        If this were an isolated case, then this is one thing, and so it is already a system ... and this is already somehow disgusting.
      3. SlavakharitonoV
        SlavakharitonoV April 18 2013 20: 54 New
        The other day they sold them Su 35. Well, how can that be ?! We are selling technological parity for money, but we aren’t working on parity ?! We are not China’s allies to bargain like this, if they want us to sell them the latest weapons, let them sell us something? It is possible to build medium-tonnage civilian ships at their shipyards, if we have to the capacity capacity ... It's a shame.
    2. rolik
      rolik April 18 2013 12: 47 New
      Quote: self-propelled
      that by a large number of characteristics it corresponds to the Soviet / Russian project 877EKM "Halibut" ... "

      The hull lines are similar to the "Lada". But more rude. At the expense of VNU - the Chinese will make it of course .... pre-slamming. Well, of course it's close to Halibut. The Chinese are probably hoping for Cupid (a stripped-down Lada). But this, too, my grandmother said in two.
    3. APASUS
      APASUS April 18 2013 22: 37 New
      Quote: self-propelled
      the Chinese are learning fast. and, despite some problems, they create modern weapons.

      Here they are creating! And it doesn’t work out as with locators for Ecuador ??
      1. Fregate
        Fregate April 19 2013 15: 49 New
        So, I think after the "Ecuadorian locators" there will be no interested persons on the submarine. laughing
  2. svp67
    svp67 April 18 2013 08: 28 New
    Everything is according to the already usual scheme. As soon as the "Varshavyanka", that is, excuse the "Halibut" to be in China, soon appeared submarines "of their own design", by a "strange" coincidence, similar to the "Halibut". Sad ... Very sad. This is not a business - this is a madhouse
  3. USNik
    USNik April 18 2013 09: 34 New
    Chinese shipbuilders claim that in the future S20 will receive a new non-volatile power plant

    It seems that just such an engine will be on a freshly-sold China submarine? sad
    1. svp67
      svp67 April 18 2013 10: 08 New
      What is sad, it will cost less for buyers than ours and nobody will pay us for "intellectual property" ...
  4. ed65b
    ed65b April 18 2013 09: 38 New
    And they gave Cosmos to China a vigorous bomb, Maybe it’s time to stop?
  5. Naval
    Naval April 18 2013 13: 38 New
    As long as our officials do not scratch s ... they scratch, the Chinese do not yawn.
    As Professor Preobrazhensky used to say: "Devastation is not in the closets, devastation in the heads"
  6. Takashi
    Takashi April 18 2013 13: 47 New
    I liked the news more about the fact that the Americans slammed the construction of the 1st model., then, one more, then another 2 .., 3 ... And most interesting, the boats disappeared !!!!
    I thought, but in our campaign, all Americans know what to build, where it is lowered, and in what backwater it costs ...: ((
    1. Argon
      Argon April 18 2013 15: 15 New
      When the Cheetah was tested at every turning point on the surface, there was a NATO reconnaissance ship
  7. Misantrop
    Misantrop April 18 2013 14: 35 New
    Quote: Takashi
    the Americans slammed the construction of the 1st model., then, one more, then another 2 .., 3 ... And most interesting, the boats disappeared !!!!
    Maybe they just drowned the fuck? China has a lot of people, and the quality of trial samples is notorious ...
  8. Argon
    Argon April 18 2013 16: 19 New
    I don’t understand that you are swearing at the Chinese. The fact that China does not disdain espionage is not news, why climb into someone else’s garden, you have to look behind your pockets. Where is our counterintelligence looking? Second aspect; similar is not the same, the same J-11 differs from the Su by more than 25% in terms of the airframe, it contains more titanium, it is more expensive in terms of cost. Just admit that in a neighboring more developed industrial power, there is a corresponding engineering school. intellectual property I will say the following. There is a certain international organization of arms dealers, I don’t remember what it’s called, it doesn’t include countries but manufacturing firms (not without politics, of course), in particular from Russia “Rosoboronexport”. So, according to the written rules of this structure, any patent in the field of weapons is valid for 20 years, after After this period, anyone can start a non-licensed release (and, accordingly, sale) of the sample. Tell me which of the "copied" samples is younger. If you go back to submarines. They say they are similar, but the displacement is different, which means they went through all the stages of design studies themselves, the technology is legal they were not transferred, and looking at the boat, one cannot build the same one but smaller. So where does the similarity come from? Firstly, they are operating comfort "Varshavyanka" and therefore the first own project will essentially be a modernization thereof (less of those risks). Second, the school of shipbuilders was harmonizing in the USSR (the Chinese studied in Leningrad and trained in Nikolaev) But I hasten to reassure all the patriots, we ask .... m to the Chinese in any case, maybe the absolute The actual income from the arms trade is no more than 3.5-4% of the GDP (usually 2%). And on oil and gas, we will not earn much.
  9. i-gor63
    i-gor63 April 18 2013 17: 54 New
    They will buy a couple of "cupids", make a clone and go. They spit on everyone, lay down on everything. Or maybe it should.
  10. I think so
    I think so April 18 2013 19: 19 New
    Solidly tired of the exaggeration of the "Russian" trace in Chinese developments ... In reality, the Russians are hopelessly behind EVERYONE in this area and whining on this topic only makes others laugh ...
  11. Dimanrus86
    Dimanrus86 April 18 2013 19: 36 New
    Che then she reminds me)
  12. Nikolai N
    Nikolai N April 18 2013 22: 53 New
    0 Я её то же давно засек laughing In vain you are so bad about China. They have not been bad ships for a long time riveted when they want. Many traditionally maritime countries are building ships in series. The quality of the metal is certainly not very good, but here the trouble is the world. The market today has become such durable products do not.