China’s People’s Liberation Army is certain about winning future wars with the development of unmanned combat systems. As per the latest state media reports, multiple types of unmanned equipment, including an amphibious combat platform and a combat vehicle with a new design concept, are about to enter military service.
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China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) has been making independent innovations involving frontier technologies in unmanned warfare since 2013.
A China National Radio (CNR) report said it has developed many types of unmanned combat equipment, which will lay the technical foundations for Chinese troops to win future wars.
CNR reported that photos of the prototype of the amphibious platform in the water show a boat-sized platform sailing at a high speed. The other project a “combat vehicle with a new design concept” is also ready for delivery inspections, the report suggested.
The aim to deploy small, new, tracked war-robots armed with machine guns, night vision, missile loaders and camera sensors is to conduct attacks while manned systems remain at safer stand-off distances.
People’s Online Daily reported earlier this year that the “thigh-high robot looks like a small assault vehicle. Target practice results showed the robot has acceptable accuracy.” It is unknown if these unmanned combat systems are operated by human decision-makers, or are operate with some measure of autonomy.
The armies like that of the US have been long operating combat robots, ranging from teleoperated sensors and IED-detonators to small, semi-autonomous unmanned systems programmed to respond to specific cues or sensor input.
On the other hand, amid rising tensions with Taiwan and in the South China Sea, the PLA deployed multiple types of unmanned equipment including aerial reconnaissance drones, unmanned obstacle-breaking ships, and unmanned ground vehicles for both attack and transport purposes in October, according to a China Central Television report.
Taiwan has reached out the US for military support in case of the Chinese invasion. The US, which is in a trade war with China, has lent support to Taiwan not only for its independence but also due to Chinese claims in the South China Sea.
China’s NUDT team has also developed the “Desert Wolf” series of unmanned ground vehicles, which run on caterpillar tracks, are equipped with remotely controlled weapon stations, and can transport goods and injured soldiers, the state media Global Times Reported.
Currently, aerial drones have become an important part of combat and they have reshaped the modern warfare. Meanwhile, unmanned weapons on the ground, and on the surface of the water and below it, are yet to garner attention, but they are also expected to change how battles are fought, the GT quoted a Beijing-based military expert. He said China needs to develop and commission unmanned equipment in all realms.
The US experts believe that “the apparent Chinese intention for the robots appears somewhat analogous to the U.S. posture, meaning that they will be deployed for reconnaissance and potential attack missions.”
Such a war-prospect means what types of defensive tactics the U.S. might be contemplating in response to the threat of a Chinese robotic attack. As per the experts, this highlights the significance of U.S. efforts to deploy its own unmanned systems to identify and potentially take out approaching armed robots.