Chinese companies were out in force at Defense & Security 2017 in Bangkok, including the China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC). Most prominent on its stand was a new family of submarines displacing 1,100t, 600t and 200t.
Scale models of these submarines were displayed alongside a model of the 2,550t S26T (pictured above) currently being built for the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) under a $385 million order lodged in May.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect was a video indicating countries currently interested in procuring Chinese submarines. In addition to Bangladesh and Pakistan that have already ordered Chinese platforms, those named by CSOC as interested parties are Algeria, Cuba, Egypt, Libya, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Venezuela.
In a rare move from a state-owned Chinese corporation, a lot of specifications about this family of submarines were available. This relative openness, as well as the revelation of a family range spanning 200t to more than 2,500t, shows China is serious about gaining greater export clients for its underwater technology.
The S26T, it was revealed, is customised for the RTN though based on the Yuan class (Type 041) designed for the People’s Liberation Army Navy. It measures 77.7m long, has an 8.6m beam, height of 9.2m and can dive 300m deep.
The type’s maximum speed is 17kt and it can swim submerged for 260nm at 80% battery capacity. Its range using air-independent propulsion (AIP) is 768nm or 20 days. Meanwhile, its maximum range for mixed AIP and diesel-electric travel is 2,000nm or 65 days.
The teardrop-shaped hull accommodates 38 crew in 46 available berths. The boat is divided into six compartments, and employs a cross-stern rudder and bow hydroplanes. An optronic mast is fitted on the sail, while the type can launch anti-ship missiles.
It will still take some time for China to construct the submarine for Thailand, with delivery expected in 2023. The RTN will eventually receive three submarines, with the budget allowing only one to be ordered at a time.
Continuing down in scale, the 1,100t submarine is 60m long, 5.6m wide and 6.8m high. Its speed is listed as 15kt, with a submerged AIP range of 800nm and mixed range of 3,000nm. It can dive 200m deep and carry 18 crew for up to 30 days. It carries ten torpedoes.
Moving further down in scale, the 600t conventional submarine is 50m long, 4.5m wide and 5.6m high. It travels at a top speed of 15kt with an AIP range of 400nm and submerged mixed range of 2,000nm. The 600t boat has a crew of 15 and can sustain a 20-day journey.
Finally, the MS200 is a mini-submarine of 200t displacement. Measuring 30m long, 3.6m wide and 4.4m high, it is designed for covert missions. It operates with a crew of six and can carry eight special forces operatives.
This small submarine moves at a maximum 8kt speed and submerged range of 120nm. Its endurance is 15 days and it can travel for up to 1,500nm submerged. It has two launching devices for torpedoes or mines.