China’s R & D programme to develop the double-hulled Project S-26/Type 032 Qing-class and Project S-30/Type 032 Qing-class SSK submarines—all to be powered by China-developed Stirling Engine air-independent propulsion systems—was begun in January 2005.
The first and only S-26 was launched at Wuchang Shipyard in Wuhan in September 2010, and it completed its harbour-trials by September 2012. Its sea-trials commenced on October 16, 2012 in the Bohai Sea. The S-26 has a length of 92.6 metres, width of 10 metres, hydroplane width of 13 metres and a height of 17.2 metres. It has a draught of 6.85 metres when surfaced with a displacement of 3,797 tons. It operates at a submerged depth of 160 metres, but can dive as deep as 200 metres. Maximum surfaced speed is 10 Knots and maximum submerged speed is 14 Knots. It can operate with a crew of 88 for 30 days without resupply, or 200 crewmen for three days.
The S-30 will have a submerged displacement of 6,628 tons, and will be armed with four vertically-launched Babur long-range land-attack cruise missiles and two submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), most likely the upgraded JL-1 SLBM. Construction of the first S-30 is presently underway at Wuhan. Deliveries, however, will not commence until 2020 at best.
The S-26 and S-30 submarines are being developed by China solely for the Pakistan Navy, and they will not enter service with the PLA Navy. The Pakistan Navy will procure four S-26s and four S-30s. China will also supply Pakistan with a submarine rebuild centre (SRC) that will be located at Ormara, and a VLF communications facility that will be located at Turbat. Deliveries of the S-26 submarines will begin by 2017.