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Sea Platforms

China’s amphibious USV emerges

17 April 2019
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The state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Company (CSIC) announced on its Weibo social media account on 8 April that its Wuchang Shipbuilding subsidiary in Wuhan has successfully completed factory acceptance tests of the Marine Lizard amphibious combat unmanned surface vessel (USV) prototype.

An artist’s impression of the Marine Lizard USV during an amphibious landing operation. (CSIC)An artist's impression of the Marine Lizard USV during an amphibious landing operation. (CSIC)

This latest milestone, which follows a series of navigation and reliability trials carried out in the Yangtze River, paves the way for systems integration work and operational trials by industry partner Qingdao Wujiang Technology Company.

Jane's had previously reported that the Marine Lizard USV was launched at the Airshow China exposition in Zhuhai in November 2018. Development is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

The prototype vehicle features an aluminium-alloy trimaran hull that is between 12 to 13.5 m in length, 4.14 m in width, and features a design displacement and draft of 14.7 tonnes and 0.55 m respectively. It is powered by a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system comprising two marine diesel generators, which, in turn, power the rear-mounted waterjets and retractable crawler units for surface and land manoeuvring.

The company also claims that the Marine Lizard has been designed to be fully autonomous, although it can be remotely operated via line-of-sight control within 50 km of a shore- or ship-based command centre, or at extended ranges with satellite communication.

CSIC envisions that the vehicle can be used as a force protection element in an amphibious assault force, providing close-protection and anti-aircraft support with armaments, including remote weapon stations fitted with machine guns, as well as short-range, surface-to-air or surface-to-surface missiles.

The vehicle can be kept in a dormant state for up to eight months using its batteries and activated when required to perform surveillance or even conduct surprise attacks. Several of these vehicles can be deployed to separate locations, such as strategically vital islands or outposts, to await activation.

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