China’s ‘Revolutionary Design’ — The PLA Navy has launched the world’s first AI-powered drone carrier, which has impressive capabilities
According to the state-run Science and Technology Daily, China launched an unmanned ship dubbed Zhu Hai Yun on May 18 that can be controlled remotely and maneuver autonomously in open water while carrying hundreds of drones, submersibles, and other vessels for performing ocean research.
The vessel is 88.5 meters in length, 14 meters in width, and 6.1 meters in depth, with a displacement of 2,000 tons. It has a top speed of 18 knots and can sail at 13 knots (24 km/h) (33 km per hour).
The ship’s expansive deck can accommodate dozens of unmanned vehicles, like as drones, unmanned ships, and submersibles, all of which are part of the Intelligent Mobile Ocean Stereo Observing System (IMOSOS) developed by the Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai).
The system is reported to be the world’s first, and it could be used for maritime environment monitoring, marine catastrophe prevention and mitigation, offshore wind farm maintenance, and giving accurate marine information, according to Science and Technology Daily.
In 2021, Chen Dake, the laboratory’s director, said the Science and Technology Daily, “The intelligent, autonomous ship is a beautiful, new ‘marine species’ that will provide revolutionary advances for ocean observation.”
The Huangpu Wenchong Shipyard, a subsidiary of China’s largest shipbuilding enterprise, the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, began construction on the Zhu Hai Yun in Guangzhou in July of last year. The ship will go through sea trials soon, and it is expected to be delivered before the end of the year.
A substantial component of the ship was built locally, according to Fan Lei, head designer of the Huangpu Wenchong shipyard.
“China produced all of the power systems, propulsion systems, intelligence systems, and survey operation support systems,” Fan told the Science and Technology Daily last year.
The upcoming Drone Carrier Assault Ship of the PLA
The Zhu Hai Yun is a ‘drone carrier’ as well as an unmanned ship, which could be a precursor to PLAN’s Type 076 landing helicopter dock (LHD), which is in development and capable of carrying Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs).
As a successor to PLAN’s Type-075 LHD, the Type 076 is a next-generation assault carrier currently under development. For launching planes from aircraft carriers, it will be outfitted with an electromagnetic aircraft launch system, or EMALS. The US Navy’s Ford-class aircraft carriers are equipped with a comparable system.
According to reports, China’s stealthy GJ-11 Sharp Sword UCAV could be one of the drones scheduled to board the Type 076 LHD, based on a CG simulation presented last year at the Zhuhai Airshow by the China Aviation Industry Group.