China has unveiled an armed amphibious drone boat which can lead an invasion and can operate as part of a swarm of drones including airborne UAVs.
Named "Marine Lizard," the drone is developed by Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group under China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC).
The ship passed delivery checks and left factory on April 8 in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province, CSIC revealed on Friday via Sina Weibo.
"The amphibious drone boat is suitable for island assault operations as a swarm of such drone ships could lead an attack following a first wave of artillery and air strikes," an anonymous military expert told the Global Times on SundaY.
"Approaching land from the sea is a dangerous task, and the Marine Lizard can take advantage of its unmanned nature to discover enemy positions and provide suppressive fire as troops follow. It is a good choice for coastal defense, the expert said.
The ship can remain dormant on an uninhabited island for up to eight months before engaging in combat once it receives orders, according to the Hubei Daily report.
The 12-meter-long Marine Lizard is a trimaran propelled by a diesel-powered hydrojet and can reach a maximum speed of 50 knots while maintaining stealth.
When approaching land, the amphibious drone ship can release four continuous track units hidden under its belly, and travel at 20 kilometers an hour on land. The maximum land speed can be increased if larger track units are installed, the Hubei Daily reported Sunday, citing an unnamed company manager.
The Marine Lizard's payloads include an electro-optical system and a radar system. It is equipped with two machine guns and a vertical launching system for anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles. The ship can autonomously sail, avoid obstacles and plan routes.
The anonymous expert also pointed out the amphibious Marine Lizard can possibly form an unmanned sea-land-air integrated combat system with aerial armed reconnaissance drones and other drone ships, which can engage in combat with great efficiency and low risk of casualties.
Having a maximum operation range of 1,200 kilometers, the Marine Lizard can be remotely controlled via satellites, the company manager said.