Earlier this month, a Chinese shipbuilder unveiled an amphibious autonomous landing vehicle that could someday be part of the country 's army. Nicknamed the "marine lizard", it can be used to attack ocean beaches in concert with other autonomous vehicles.
The China State Shipbuilding Industry Company, a state-owned company, said the prototype of the landing craft had been tested and delivered successfully, and that it was the first such vehicle in the world. The vehicle has a length of 12 meters and a maximum speed of 50 knots in water and 20 km / hour on land. according to China Global Times. The amphibious landers were used in the war, operating first as a boat before crawling on land. This vehicle has three hulls and once on the ground, it can deploy four tracks that can operate independently of each other to allow the vehicle to move once on land.
Military experts also told the Time that the vehicle can trace its own route, swim to shore, avoid obstacles and that it can also be controlled remotely by an operator. The vehicle can also be equipped with a pair of machine guns and a missile launcher, although it is likely to call on an external operator for these functions.
The vehicle does not have to be used for frontal assaults. The company announced that the Chinese army would drop it on a desert island and reactivate it later. the vehicle can remain dormant for up to eight months. It could also integrate with other autonomous systems, such as drones or boats.
Amphibious landings are a particularly difficult place for the military, who must be able to operate on land and in the water, but any defense can take advantage of the ground against an attacker. An autonomous system could potentially mitigate some of the risks to the Marines by providing firepower or advanced reconnaissance, or be stationed in an area where it is impractical to keep a garrison in a strategically important location.
This could be particularly helpful to the Chinese army, which has sought to expand its influence in the South Pacific in recent years by putting it in conflict with its immediate neighbors. and the United States. A tactic that is used create a number of artificial islands in the South China Seathat it claims as a sovereign territory, which it could use to support all the forces it deploys in the region. This vehicle is an early prototype and it is certainly too early to say how well it works in adverse conditions, let alone combat.