Chinese scientists have reportedly developed an underwater drone that can also fly at high speeds. The drone has civilian and military applications, including inspecting underwater mines and weakening the defense systems of enemy warships.
The South China Morning Post reported on Monday that China’s latest drone has four propellers, two of which can tilt. It can slowly approach underwater targets and remain inactive in an area for an extended period, the researchers said.
Professor Ji Wanfeng of Yantai Naval Aviation University in Shandong province said the drone can dive underwater when detected by radar and quickly surface to avoid sonar. The maneuvers could overwhelm a warship’s computer, making the drone a cheap and effective way to cripple aircraft carrier defense systems.
“It will surely become a powerful complement to the existing combat methods and tactics of Chinese Navy equipment,” Ji said, adding that the drone “can carry out effective strikes against key enemy targets.”
The drone can fly at a speed of 74.6 mph, which is twice as fast as typical rotor drones. It “also consumes little power when cruising in fixed-wing mode, so it can perform fast and long-range missions in the air,” said Ang Haisong, a scientist at the University of Aeronautics and Engineering. Nanjing Astronautics.
A second researcher from Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xian, Shaanxi province, who requested anonymity, said China is working on several “transmedia vessels” that can traverse both air and water.
“They are primarily intended for military applications. Some can fly at supersonic speeds,” the researcher said.
Last year, documents obtained by the Morning Post revealed that China was developing a submersible drone capable of tracking enemy submarines and attacking them with torpedoes.
China’s underwater drone project has been partially declassified by a Chinese engineering university involved in its development, according to the Morning Post. An article from the Journal of Harbin Engineering University details a 2010 test in the Taiwan Strait in which the underwater attack drone used its own sensors to independently identify and track the underwater target, before successfully firing a unarmed torpedo on it.
Also in 2021, China unveiled a new high-altitude drone that would be able to fly for around 20 hours and reach top speeds of 435 miles per hour.
The unmanned aircraft has a wingspan of 20.5 meters, has a maximum takeoff weight of 7.8 tons and is capable of carrying a wide range of payloads, including electro-optical systems, synthetic radar aperture, early warning radars, electronic reconnaissance systems, air-to-missiles and land bombs, anti-radiation missiles and floating munitions.