Chinese military scientists have reportedly developed a highly versatile submarine drone that is also capable of flight.
The drone, as reported by the South China Morning Post, has applications in both civilian and military arenas, including inspecting underwater mines, and dismantling enemy warship defense systems.
Speaking to the paper, Professor Ji Wanfeng of the Naval Aviation University in Shandong said that the drone is capable of diving underwater when detected by radar, and can quickly resurface to avoid sonar detection.
The versatile drone, which sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, flies on four propellers with two that can tilt. It is reportedly capable of approaching underwater targets and idling in a single area for an extended period, according to Chinese scientists.
If the drones work as intended, a fleet of them, which are cheap to produce, could very easily cripple an aircraft carrier's defense systems and make it vulnerable to attack from a nearby warship.
“It will surely become a powerful supplement to the Chinese navy’s existing equipment combat methods and tactics,” Ji stated, adding that the drone “can achieve efficient strikes against the enemy’s key targets.”
The South China Morning Posts reports that the drone is capable of flying at a speed of 74.6 mph, which is double the speed of other rotor-blade drones. Likewise, it is also energy efficient and capable of cruising in fixed wing mode, enabling it to perform long-range missions, said Ang Haisong, a scientist with Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Another researcher involved in drone development, who requested anonymity, suggested that China is working on multiple “transmedia vessels” capable of traversing both air and water.
“They are mainly for military applications. Some can fly at supersonic speed,” the researcher said.
In 2021, documents obtained by the publication revealed that China was developing a torpedo-armed submersible drone capable of tracking enemy submarines.
Also in 2021, American Military News reported that China revealed a high-altitude drone capable of flying for around 20 hours with top speeds of 435 mph.