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Glimpse of new autonomous underwater vehicle during Chinese military parade

China's autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) has been spotted on a military truck during rehearsals for Tuesday’s National Day parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) at the Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, capital of China, October 1, 2019.

Glimpse of new autonomous underwater vehicle during Chinese military parade 925 002 What appears to be a very large new underwater robot under camouflage wrap (Picture source: H. Sutton)

The UUV appears approximately the same size as the US Navy’s LDUUV projects suggesting that it is large enough to carry smaller UUVs or, potentially, sensors or mines. The slightly square cross-section reinforces the interpretation that it includes a hangar for other vehicles although this is yet to be confirmed.

The unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) was seen draped in naval camouflage on a six-wheeled transporter during a rehearsal for the parade.

Like many UUVs, this drone has a torpedo-shaped body and tail fins, but at about a metre (3.2 feet) in diameter and more than five metres long, it is unusually big.

Chinese authorities have not commented on the device, but military experts said it could be a submersible for general marine data collection and gathering underwater military information.

Large underwater robots are likely to play a major role in China’s ambition to dominate the undersea battlespace in the South China Sea. China uses the South China Sea as a patrol area for its nuclear powered-ballistic missile submarines because the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea are too shallow and cluttered with fishing vessels. To protect them it is building a sonar network coined the Underwater Great Wall.

The U.S. Navy’s LDUUVs have yet to enter service so China may be set to catch up in overall terms. The British Royal Navy and Japanese Navy also have large-size AUV programs but those are in their infancy. Russia may also be toying with this technology with an unconfirmed project to build a squadron of large AUVs called Garmoniya, meaning Harmony.