A team of researchers from a university in eastern China claims to have developed an unmanned submarine prototype capable of floating and flying.
According to a report by the South China Morning Post, the flying submarine can support various military missions, including the detection of underwater mines.
Its four propellers allow the unmanned system to approach an underwater target and linger for an extended period.
The researchers say that the drone’s two large folded wings extend when it reaches the surface, allowing the submarine to fly at a speed of 120 kilometers (74.6 miles) per hour.
Lead project scientist Ang Haisong stated that the vehicle consumes less energy than other drones, enabling it to perform long-range missions in the air.
The news outlet reported that Ang’s team produced two scaled-down prototypes of the unmanned submarines with wing spans of around two meters (6.5 feet).
During the first trials, the research team said the submarine could not rise directly from the water due to surface waves.
The unstable take-off process prompted Ang and the team to develop a complex control mechanism that enables the submarine to glide on the waves before take-off.
Furthermore, the researchers integrated an airbag that can be flooded to adjust the drone’s buoyancy.
‘Transmedia Vessels’ Development
China has allocated funds for the research and development of flying submarines, referred to as “transmedia vessels.”
The country allegedly views transmedia vessels as the cheapest, most effective means to neutralize aircraft carrier defenses.
A flying submarine can dive underwater quickly when detected by enemy radar and then resurface to avoid being identified by sonar.
Having multiple transmedia vessels could confuse or overwhelm a warship’s computer, Naval Aviation University professor Ji Wanfeng stressed.