BEIJING --- Not long ago a personage's report of the PLA Navy confirmed for the first time that China's conventional submarines have been equipped with the AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) technology for more than ten years.
Li Jie, a naval expert, said in an interview with Science and Technology Daily that "the appearance of AIP is considered a revolution of conventional submarine technology. Having developed for over ten years, China's conventional submarine AIP technology is in no way inferior to that in other countries."
According to Li Jie, several types of AIP systems are widely used in the world today, including two most frequently used, namely the fuel battery and Stirling engine, which is also adopted by China.
It's worth mentioning that China's AIP technology is independently developed by itself, and its Stirling engine has reached world advanced level after more than ten years of development, Li introduced.
When asked "why China still develops AIP-equipped conventional submarine while the US uses only nuclear submarines," Li Jie answered that a nuclear submarine costs about ten times as much as a conventional submarine in its whole life cycle.
Due to budget considerations and political and social restrictions on the manufacturing and use of nuclear submarine(e.g. shallow sea areas are unsuitable for nuclear submarine activities), most countries in the world that have a navy choose to propel their submarines with conventional power, he added.
"Take China for example, conventional submarine is mainly deployed in offshore waters, while nuclear submarine is more suitable in medium- and open-sea waters. They have different performance and serve different purposes and are both indispensable," said Li Jie.