China Advances Amphibious USV Development

April 08: Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group, a Wuhan-based subsidiary of the state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Company (CSIC), has delivered the first pre-production hull for the Marine Lizard amphibious combat unmanned surface vessel (USV) following successful factory acceptance tests at its Shuangliu shipyard, CSIC announced on 8 April.

The partially completed hull, constructed by Wuchang Shipbuilding’s Module Company division and furnished with a twin waterjet propulsion system, was handed over to Qingdao Wujiang Technology Company for systems integration and further development.

A full-scale prototype of the Marine Lizard USV was first unveiled at the Airshow China exhibition in November 2018 by Qingdao-based unmanned platform control and navigation systems developer Zhongbang Intelligent Technology (ZB Intelligence), which was set up in 2017 by a team of former engineers from state-owned and private companies. Jane’s earlier reported that ZB Intelligence’s products include the Nob-X unified USV control and navigation system, a software-based interface that enables the operator to control multiple unmanned surface and subsurface platforms.

It is understood that the Marine Lizard USV is under joint development by Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group and Qingdao Wujiang Technology Company.

The prototype sea vehicle is constructed from aluminium alloy and adopts a 12-13.5 m long and 4.14-m wide trimaran hullform with a design displacement and draft of 14.7 tonnes and 0.55 m respectively. According to Wuchang Shipbuilding, the hull comprises “thousands” of aluminium alloy plates that are 5-8 mm thick and bonded together using novel fitting and welding processes designed to minimise plate deformation and other production defects.

It is equipped with a hybrid-electric propulsion system – centred on a pair of marine diesel generators of undisclosed output – that power the four electric track units installed under each corner of the hull.

The track units are independently driven and enable the USV to travel on land at a maximum speed of 20 km/h depending on terrain conditions.

Source: Jane’s International Defence Review / Kelvin Wong

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