The Type 039 / Song Class attack submarine was built by Wuhan Shipyard (Wuchang Shipyard) for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of China. It was the first indigenously built submarine of China. The class is preceded by Type 035 (Ming Class) and succeeded by Type 041 (Yuan Class) submarines.
The Type 039 was introduced to replace the Romeo / Ming Class submarines. The keel of the first submarine of the class, No. 320, was laid down in 1991. It was launched in May 1994 but was not commissioned until June 1999 due to design and performance problems.
Following extensive redesign work, a new modified version known as Type 039G was introduced. The new design reduced the acoustic signature and enhanced the underwater performance of the submarine.
The first Type 039G sub, No. 321, was launched in November 1999 and commissioned in April 2001.
The second of the class, No.322, was commissioned in December 2001, while the third submarine, No. 323, entered service in November 2003.
The construction on another new version, Type 039G1, commenced at Wuchang Shipyard and Jiangnan Shipyard in 2004. A series of 12 submarines were built at the two shipyards.
Type 039 design
The design features a low-drag hydrodynamically profiled hull and sail. Type 039 was the first submarine to use a teardrop hull design. The body is water-drop shaped and the hull is covered with rubber tiles to absorb the sound waves of sonar. The class is equipped with a seven-blade propeller and an engine fitted with a shock-absorbing base. The submarine incorporates Chinese and Western technologies.
Type 039 has a length of 75m, a beam of 8.4m and a draught of 5.3m. The submerged displacement of the boat is 2,250t. The submarine has 12kt – 15kt surfaced and 22kt dived speed. It can complement 60 crew members. The submarine is primarily designed for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare. It can also perform the missions of reconnaissance, mine laying and patrolling.
Submarine command and control
The Song Class is equipped with a multi-role combat and command system. It is an upgraded version of the combat and command system used in the Ming Class submarines. The data provided by the system is used to control the submarine, and firing of torpedoes and missiles.
Song Class torpedoes
The Song Class submarine is fitted with six 533mm bow torpedo tubes for torpedoes and anti-ship missiles. These tubes can launch Yu-3 acoustic-homing anti-submarine torpedoes and Yu-4 passive acoustic-homing anti-ship torpedoes. Yu-4 has a speed of 30kt and a range of 6km. The submarine can also carry 24 to 36 tube-launched naval mines in place of torpedoes.
Type 039 is also armed with YJ-8 anti-ship cruise missiles launched from the torpedo tubes. The YJ-8 travels at a speed of Mach 0.9, and can strike the surface vessels within the range of 80km. It carries a 165kg warhead.
The submarine is fitted with SRW209 electronic warfare suite comprising electronic support measures, a radar warning receiver and a radio direction finder. The system is fully automatic and manually operated. It operates on S – Ku bands and can be linked with the combat data system.
Type 039 sensors / radars
The underwater sensor suite consists of a medium-frequency active / passive bow array, a passive interception and ranging array and two passive flank arrays.
The bow-mounted sonar can track 4-12 targets simultaneously, while flank-mounted low-frequency tracks four targets simultaneously to a maximum range of 30km.
The sonar array also performs underwater communication and torpedo approach warning functions. An I-band radar is also fitted for surface search missions.
Diesel-electric propulsion system
The Type 039 submarine is equipped with a diesel-electric propulsion system. Three German MTU 16V396SE84 diesel engines drive the large asymmetrical seven-bladed skewed propeller through a single shaft. The submarine is equipped with four alternators and an electric motor.