China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has revealed plans for an autonomous multirole surface vessel designed specifically for high-end naval operations at the 2017 International Ocean Science and Technology (OST) Exhibition in Qingdao.
Under development by the Beijing-based 13th Research Institute of CASC’s Ninth Academy – the latter also known as China Aerospace Times Electronics Corporation (CATEC) – the D3000 unmanned oceanic combat vessel is presently envisioned to be a 30 m-class unmanned surface vessel (USV) that is capable of operating out to a range of 540 n miles for up to 90 days, although its size can be further scaled up for greater range or payload capacity should there be a customer requirement.
According to company specifications, the initial baseline D3000 is expected to feature a hybrid-electric propulsion system powered by diesel generator sets, although these could be replaced with small gas turbines for improved reliability. The vessel will also be equipped with energy storage for low-speed or loiter operations, while photovoltaic solar panels provide a secondary means of generating electrical power when the vehicle has been placed on standby.
Adopting a trimaran hullform for increased mission payload flexibility and seakeeping performance, the D3000 design is claimed to be capable of achieving maximum speeds of up to 40 kt, with guaranteed operation in conditions of up to Sea State 7. It also features a modular architecture that facilitates the installation and removal of sensors, weapons, and mission systems with the vessel capable of carrying up to 10 tonnes of payload to address a wide range of operational requirements.
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