CSIC Develops World's First Armed Amphibious Drone Attack Boat

Sina Weibo / CSIC

By The Maritime Executive 04-15-2019 03:05:07

A division of state-owned China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) has delivered the world's first unmanned, armed amphibious combat vessel, dubbed the "Marine Lizard." Its builder claims that it is capable of autonomous navigation.

CSIC first unveiled a prototype last year, but the unit revealed last week reportedly passed all factory checks for delivery, according to state-owned Global Times. However, Janes Defense reports that only the hull was completed, and that the partially-finished craft was transferred to a systems integrator for further fitting out and development. 

The Marine Lizard's aluminum trimaran hull form and its waterjet propulsion give the vessel a claimed speed of 50 knots at sea. Four sets of tracks are fitted in the bottom of the hull fore and aft and are deployed for beach landings. Diesel-electric power gives it a claimed top speed of about 12 miles per hour on land. 

The vessel is armed with two machine guns and launchers for anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles, according to Global Times. It is intended for use in contested-environment beach assault operations, where it would be deployed in advance of troop landings. According to Hubei Daily, it could also lie in wait on uninhabited islands for months at a time, awaiting a remote order to activate. 

CSIC's Wuchang Shipbuilding division builds warships for the PLA Navy, along with other vessels for civilian and government owners; it did not disclose the initial buyer for the Marine Lizard. The firm said that the model will be available for export sale.