Submarines: Corrupt Kilo Copies Clobbered

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May 13,2008: Russia is getting more and more upset at what it sees as Chinese making unauthorized use of Russian military technology. The latest irritation is the new Chinese diesel electric sub design, the Type 39A, or Yuan class. They look just like the Russian Kilo class. In the late 1990s, the Chinese began ordering Russian Kilo class subs. Russia was selling new Kilos for about $200 million each, which is about half the price other Western nations sell similar boats for. The Kilos weigh 2,300 tons (surface displacement), have six torpedo tubes and a crew of 57. They are quiet, and can travel about 700 kilometers under water at a quiet speed of about five kilometers an hour. Kilos carry 18 torpedoes or SS-N-27 anti-ship missiles (with a range of 300 kilometers and launched underwater from the torpedo tubes.) The combination of quietness and cruise missiles makes Kilo very dangerous to American carriers. North Korea and Iran have also bought Kilos.

The Chinese have already built two Yuans, the second one an improvement on the first. These two boats have been at sea to try out the technology that was pilfered from the Russians. A third Yuan is under construction, and it also appears to be a bit different from the first two. The first Yuan appeared to be a copy of the early model Kilo (the model 877), while the second Yuan (referred to as a Type 39B) appeared to copy the late Kilos (model 636). The third Yuan may end up being a further evolution, or Type 39C.

The Type 39, or Song class, also had the teardrop shaped hull, but was based on the predecessor of the Kilo, the Romeo class. The Type 39A was thought to be just an improved Song, but on closer examination, especially by the Russians, it looked like a clone of the Kilos. The Yaun class also have AIP (Air Independent Propulsion), which allows non-nuclear boats to stay underwater for days at a time.

The Russian sub building organizations are not amused, and are warning China of legal action if Yuans are offered for export (and in direct completion with the Kilos.)

 


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