China's First AIP (air-independent propulsion) Submarine has achieved a 10 year service milestone, following performance of 50 important tasks and voyage of hundreds of thousands of miles since it was put into service a decade ago.
The information was disclosed in a feature published on the website of the Ministry of National Defense on June 14.
“China’s command of AIP technology is mature, and the system is widely used in the country’s submarine units.” An industry insider told the Global Times on June 14 .
AIP allows non-nuclear submarines to operate without access to atmospheric oxygen, prolonging operation duration and increasing stealth.
“A batch of AIP professionals has been cultivated to both satisfy the needs of routine training and military preparedness, and to carry out maintenance and fault deletion.” the insider further revealed.
Though China built its first locally made submarine Type 035 (Ming class) in 1974. The initial hulls did not perform well but 17 are in service with a few having AIP.
This was followed by the import of the silent Kilo class submarine from Russia with Klub missiles capable of engaging land and sea targets at a distance of 220 km. It is reported that 12 are in active service. China has continued building locally made submarines despite the Kilo class acquisitions from Russia.
The Type 039 submarine (Song class) was locally built and underwent sea trials in 1995. It has a German propulsion system, seven blade skewed propeller and noise reduction rubber tiles. They are armed with torpedoes and fire the YJ 8 anti ship missile. There are about 13 submarines in active service.
The latest Chinese submarine is the Type 039 A (Yuan class). The hull is similar to the Kilo class and other features similar to the Song class with an AIP system. The Type 039A fires torpedoes and missiles. There are 15 in service and at least three upgraded versions. These are also capable of firing ballistic missiles.