President Xi Jinping wants to 'Make China Great Again', -- and that implies bringing Taiwan under the Communist Party’s control. For that to happen, China would need to strengthen its military capabilities before it launched a potential invasion of the island nation.
New evidence this week from China’s state-owned media reveals that the world's first armed amphibious drone boat for sea assault operations has rolled off the assembly line.
Manufactured by Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group under China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), the new drone boat, dubbed Marine Lizard, passed "delivery checks" and left the factory on April 8 in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province, state-run Global Times reported on Monday.
The vessel measures 40 ft long, is powered by a diesel-powered hydro jet engine for a maximum speed of 50 knots.
Hubei Daily reported on Sunday, citing an anonymous CSIC manager, that the amphibious drone ship releases four continuous track units hidden under its belly as it approaches land, can traverse over hard terrain at about 13 mph.
They vessels have a maximum operational range of 745 miles and can be remotely controlled from 31 miles away.
CSIC mounted advance radar, optical and BeiDou satellite navigation systems in the vessel that can connect to other autonomous vehicles.
Marine Lizards are constructed from special aluminum alloy, could be used to transport troops, establish perimeter surveillance around coasts, conduct inshore monitoring, support airport defenses, and even lead sea assault operations.
The drone boats could lie dormant near a target for eight months before being reactivated to launch an attack, a tactic that could be used to commandeer uninhabited islands in the East and the South China Sea, or even Taiwan.
"They can hide and hibernate, do autonomous patrols, and launch rapid assaults and landings," CSIC told Hubei Daily.
Beijing-based military commentator Song Zhongping told Hubei Daily that the quick speed of the boats means China can launch surprise attacks on islands.
Song said the boats would be ideal for the military to start autonomous surveillance operations throughout the South China Sea.
"In the South China Sea, it can be used to either seize a reef or guard a reef, both offensive and defensive," he said.
The drone boat is available for export, read a statement issued by Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group.