Watch: China's New Stealth Submarine Type 039C Spotted for the First Time

Watch: China’s New Stealth Submarine Type 039C Spotted for the First Time

China Stealth Submarine Type 039C
Image Credit: Reddit

In the world of maritime defense, stealth technology remains a cornerstone of strategic superiority. China’s latest addition to this arena, stealth submarine Type 039C, represents a significant leap in naval warfare capabilities. This submarine, elusive to radar and sonar detection, was first spotted not by enemy forces, but unexpectedly by local fishermen. Their cameras captured the submarine, presumably en route to a training mission in the East China Sea. The sighting, which was initially shared by a Weibo user in Zhejiang province, has since caught the attention of military analysts worldwide.

The Type 039C: A Technological Marvel

The Type 039C is the newest design in China’s fleet of Yuan-class submarines. This advanced submarine is equipped with torpedoes and YJ-18 supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, making it a formidable addition to China’s naval capabilities. Its operational range is estimated to be around 340 nautical miles, but its full capacities remain shrouded in secrecy, adding to its mystique.

Rapid Development and Deployment

Following its construction in Wuhan, the Type 039C was commissioned into the Chinese Navy in 2022, a year after its launch. Notably fast for its class, the commissioning ceremony took place in Ningbo, serving as a hub for the Chinese Navy’s Eastern Fleet. According to media reports, this submarine is stationed at the Daxie Dao Submarine Base, located in a rocky archipelago surrounded by numerous naval bases. This strategic positioning allows the Chinese Navy to expand its operations in the South and East China Seas.

Positioned Near Taiwan: A Strategic Move

China has strategically deployed the Type 039C submarine near its eastern frontier, particularly to counter Taiwan. The headquarters of the fleet hosting this submarine is situated about 270 NM north of Taiwan, near the Japanese islands, serving as a natural barrier in the open Pacific Ocean. This placement significantly enhances China’s maritime operations and asserts its naval presence in the region.

China’s Growing Submarine Fleet

China is rapidly expanding its fleet of aggressive and nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines. However, public details about these submarines are scarce. The Type 039C, like its predecessors, remains largely under wraps, with China disclosing little about its capabilities. International concerns, particularly from the United States, have been raised about the rapidly growing strength of the Chinese Navy, especially its underwater combat capabilities. China boasts the world’s largest navy in terms of numbers, and recent reports suggest that it is now developing world-class nuclear submarines, comparable to Russia’s Akula-I class.

The Silent Killer: Type 039C

The Chinese Navy’s fleet includes 17 Yuan-class submarines, known as “silent killers” for being among the quietest in the world. The U.S. Naval Institute, based on publicly available information, has studied the Yuan-class submarines. The Type 039 was initially planned as an anti-ship cruise missile platform capable of prolonged submersion. To achieve this, the Chinese developed an Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, first installed in the Type 039A submarines. This indigenous AIP technology enhances the submarine’s stealth capabilities, making it a formidable force in underwater warfare.

China’s Type 039C stealth submarine marks a significant advancement in its naval capabilities. Its deployment near Taiwan and the secrecy surrounding its full potential indicate a strategic shift in China’s maritime defense strategy. As nations around the world observe China’s growing naval prowess, the Type 039C stands as a testament to the country’s technological advancements and strategic ambitions in the realm of underwater warfare.

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