New Chinese SSK Fuels Asia's Submarine Race

The China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation has launched an unidentified new-type conventional submarine (SSK) at its Wuhan shipyard, according to Chinese reports.

It is the third new SSK design revealed by China since 1994 and is likely to exacerbate regional anxieties that are propelling many Asian states to increase or establish submarine fleets.

Vague or altered internet images of this new SSK, which first appeared on the popular Chinese CALF web page on 10 September, led observers to think that it may be yet another Chinese internet hoax, but the submarine's existence was confirmed by much clearer images on 13 September.

While not much larger than the 3,000- to 4,000-ton Type 041 Yuan class, the new boat appears to incorporate Russian design influences, including a stouter hull with a reduced aft taper similar to the Project 667 Lada/Amur class, plus an elongated sail and hull-mounted retractable hydroplanes similar to the Project 636 Kilo class. However, in contrast to the sail of the Kilo, the new Chinese SSK incorporates hydrodynamic elements such as an intricately-faired leading edge with concave and convex curves.

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