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Chinese Progress on Unmanned Surface Vehicles (Ro-boats)

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posted on Jan, 4 2020 @ 12:09 PM
The great powers have been working on developing unmanned technologies for use in warfare. Almost everyone at this point knows about drones, properly unmanned aerial vehicles, and their extensive use by the US and, more recently, China and her clients in combat. Drone strikes, as they are called colloquially, are very much a part of part of modern warfare. Aircraft is not the only area the great power militaries have been working on for unmanned combat vehicles: unmanned underwater vehicles (robo subs), unmanned ground vehicles[1] and unmanned surface vehicles (ro-boats).

The US has the definite lead in USVs. The US Navy has budgeted and is ordering two Large Unmanned Surface Vehicles (LUSV) this year[2]. Each of these are 2,000 ton ships and intended to have a range of 3,200 miles and sport 32 VLS cells, eventually[3]. The LUSV's role is that of a mini arsenal ship, allowing manned ships to stay in the fight while the LUSV fires off its weapons and leaves to replenish. The Navy is also ordering Medium USVs like the SeaHunter[4] as sensor platforms and has been working on the Fleet class CUSV[5] as minehunters and potentially against boat swarms like what the Iranians like. The Seahunter is 145 tons at full load and the Fleet is almost 8 tons. The Fleet has entered true production and the MUSV is going through procurement now, like the LUSV. The US isn't the only nation working on USVs though.

China is also working on its own USVs. So far, they have been like the Fleet class CUSV. Some have been weird, like a UGV/USV combination for amphibious landings. However, the one with the most progress and most likely to go into production is a CUSV-like boat with armed with light weapons. Pictures recently emerged of the boat.

In terms of sensors, the Chinese USV seems to be far more aggressive than the American counterpart. The sensor package appears, stress, /appears/ to be far more extensive than the one used by the Fleet class. However, as outfitted, the Chinese boat is armed as well as having multiple radars, whereas the CUSV has sonars and basic radar and possible a lidar.

The other noted difference is the Chinese USV is that it is armed with a small calibre automatic weapon in a turret. Versions of display models of the USV at trade shows have shown small rockets and antiship missiles. However, no pictures of those weapons on the operational prototype have been seen as yet.

Technologically, the Chinese appear to be about 15 years behind the US Navy. However, the US Navy has been having procurement issues. bureaucracy and waffling leadership has hurt the US efforts. Recently, that seems to have radically changed. So much so, Congress put the limit on the LUSV VLS cells until Congress feels comfortable the Navy isn't going to suddenly change direction or end up producing an LCS. Again.

1. Bolos, Ogres and Terminators, oh my!
3. Congress wants the Navy to verify this is what they really want before spending the money to put weapons on them.

posted on Jan, 4 2020 @ 01:04 PM
That's pretty cool, I'm curious as to the security of the data links between them and the users, can it be intercepted and hacked?
I doubt they will be autonomous.

posted on Jan, 4 2020 @ 09:16 PM
a reply to: anzha

Interesting design, I know it is probably just an early model prototype but why the window's, they are a weak point in any hull design and an autonomous vehicle just does not need them so is it really an unmanned surface vehicle or is it a red herring.

As for unmanned submersible vehicles I would be seriously surprised if the US has not already developed deep sea ballistic capable unmanned sub's, they are just too much common sense as a part of a military strategy, a submarine without crew can go deeper faster and rise back up faster, it can wait for as long as its power source allows as well loitering silently until it receives an activation or targeting command, likewise since sailors are one of the most expensive components of a ship automated military drones like these can dispense with cooking, sleeping and sanitary facility's (as well as provision's storage and medical facility's) except in early model's were a skeleton maintenance crew may still be fielded on such vessels but not be in charge of them there job merely being to provide maintenance of system's.

Those window's though?.

I see it has a planer twin hull design as well, not the most efficient but fast enough for most operational function's.

edit on 4-1-2020 by LABTECH767 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 5 2020 @ 02:09 AM
a reply to: anzha

the problem - IMHO with autonomous marine platforms :

damage control

yes - there are solutions availiable unique to unmanned craft

like - nitorgen purging the enture vessel to reduce fire risk

but other instances // senarios - a ptroblem that COULD be addressed with one hand - could doom the vessel

posted on Jan, 5 2020 @ 11:29 AM
a reply to: LABTECH767

As for unmanned submersible vehicles I would be seriously surprised if the US has not already developed deep sea ballistic capable unmanned sub's,

Actually, the US is extremely uncomfortable with putting nuclear weapons on unmanned platforms. A fire and forget missile, like a cruise missile, sure, but an unmanned platform, one that loiters with the weapons and can/must be recalled at some point, is not something the US feels comfortable with, brass, congress or any president to date.

Those window's though?

Might be sensors. Might be since this is a prototype, that it still has a cabin and engineering space, so to speak for people to climb in to work on at sea.

posted on Jan, 5 2020 @ 11:34 AM

originally posted by: Arnie123
That's pretty cool, I'm curious as to the security of the data links between them and the users, can it be intercepted and hacked?
I doubt they will be autonomous.

It's a good question. China has been pretty aggressive about developing quantum encryption, which is afaik, unhackable. FWIW, so as the US. The first quantum encrypted network was deployed, iirc, at Los Alamos over ten years ago.

That said, there are other ways to hack something other than through the datalink. That's typically the easiest and most traditional though. Electronic attack can do some pretty amazing things these days. Amazing and terrifying,

That said, China and Russia are not opposed to autonomous weapons. We /are/ generally. No one, in the US, wants a skynet. or ED 209 going off badly in a city. Or... The Russians and Chinese don't have as much of a fear of that. for better or worse.

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