The maritime industry has witnessed a significant development in China’s submarine propulsion capabilities with the successful certification of the CHD620V16H6 diesel engine. Developed by Henan Diesel Engine Co., Ltd (HND), a subsidiary of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), the engine’s attainment of the National Military Standard (GJB) certification on July 27, 2023, represents a noteworthy milestone in China’s naval technology prowess. The CHD620V16H6 diesel engine is a variant of the well-established CHD620 engine series, which has been under development for over five years. This achievement reflects China’s unwavering commitment to enhancing its naval capabilities. Although access to the HND official website is currently restricted, news and images of the engine’s success have spread across the Chinese online social media platform Weibo, amplifying its significance.
The CHD620V16H6 diesel engine is poised to replace the German MTU 16V 396 SE84 diesel engine, which had previously been utilized in Chinese-style submarines, specifically the Type 039A/B/C/D (NATO) diesel-electric attack submarines. Following the European Union’s sanctions against China in 2020, Germany halted the export of dual-use devices, including the MTU 396 engine. Amid these challenges, China’s HND has emerged as a frontrunner in developing a viable and domestically-produced alternative. The certification of the CHD620V16H6 diesel engine marks a strategic response to the discontinuation of MTU 396 engines. This development resonates significantly for the Pakistani Navy as well, as the CHD620V16H6 diesel engine is poised to be installed in the Hangor-class submarines. Pakistan’s partnership with China in this endeavor has led to joint construction efforts, with the first four submarines being built at the Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group (WSIG) and the remaining four at the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KS&EW).
The Hangor-class submarine program has faced its share of challenges, including the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on production timelines. Additionally, complications arising from negotiations and investigations surrounding the MTU 396 engine have resulted in delays. However, recent reports indicate that both the Royal Thai Navy and Pakistan have accepted the CHD620 engine, marking a positive turning point for the propulsion transition. The successful certification of the CHD620V16H6 diesel engine underscores China’s commitment to enhancing its naval capabilities and technological self-reliance. This achievement serves as a testament to the nation’s progress in overcoming challenges and finding strategic solutions in the face of global geopolitical dynamics. As China continues to make strides in maritime technology, the CHD620V16H6 diesel engine stands as a symbol of China’s resilience and innovation in safeguarding its naval interests.