A new photo revealed on Chinese military websites indicate that the People's Liberation Army Navy continues to modify its Type 041 Yuan-class conventional submarine, according to the London-based Jane's Defense Weekly in a report on Apr. 9.
Images of the new Type 041 variant — also referred to as the Type 039A, Type 039C or Type 039X — first surfaced online in December last year after its launch by the Wuhan Shipyard of the China State Shipbuilding Corporation. The new image, released on Apr. 6, shows the new Type 041 variant has a raked sail that is similar to German SSK designs, Jane's Defense Weekly said.
The new sail design may incorporate an additional high-frequency sonar at the base, which will make the new Type 041 slightly longer than its predecessors. Unconfirmed Chinese sources said that the displacement of the new variant is 3,500 tonnes, according to the report, 500 tonnes more than the current Type 041 Yuan-class submarine and over a 1,000 tonnes more than the 2,300-tonne S20, the export version of Type 041 submarine designed for Pakistan.
According to IHS Jane's Fighting Ships, a leading open-source maritime defense reference resource, China's Type 041 submarine can be equipped with YJ-2 (YJ-82) anti-ship missiles and a combination of Yu-4 (SAET-50) passive homing and Yu-3 (SET-65E) active/passive homing torpedoes. In addition, it can also carry Yu-6 wake-homing torpedoes. In an annual report published in May 2013, the Pentagon estimated that China has launched around 20 Type 041 Yuan-class conventional submarines since 2004.