China has successfully tested the world’s first armed amphibious drone boat which the Chinese military analysts claimed could be used in land assault operations and is capable of forming a combat triad with aerial drones and other drone ships.
According to a report in the state run Global Times, the boat built by Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group under China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), named Marine Lizard, successfully passed delivery checks and left factory on April 8 in Wuhan, capital of Central China’s Hubei Province.
Having a maximum operation range of 1,200 kms, the Marine Lizard can be remotely controlled via satellites, an official said.
In ship form, the 12-meter-long Marine Lizard is a trimaran propelled by a diesel-powered hydrojet and can reach a maximum speed of 50 knots while maintaining stealth, it said.
When approaching land, the amphibious drone ship can release four continuous track units hidden under its belly, and travel at 20 kms an hour on land, the daily report quoted an unnamed official as saying.
The official said the maximum land speed can be increased if larger track units are installed.
With about USD 178 billion defence budget, the two million strong Chinese military, the world’s largest, has been focussing on developing a range of new weapons in recent years.
The Marine Lizard’s payloads include an electro-optical system and a radar system. In the weapon department, it is equipped with two machine guns and a vertical launching system for anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, the official said.
It can autonomously sail, avoid obstacles and plan routes, he said.
This amphibious drone boat is suitable for island assault operations as a swarm of such drone ships could lead an attack following a first wave of artillery and air strikes, an anonymous military expert told daily.