The drone can approach an underwater target slowly and stay in one place for a considerable amount of time since it is propelled by four propellers, including a pair at the front that tilt.
When the drone reaches the water’s surface, two sizable wings that fold over its back can extend, enabling it to fly at a speed of 74.6 mph (120 kph), which is roughly twice as fast as a typical drone powered by rotor blades.
The drone “consumes little energy when cruising in fixed-wing mode, so it can perform some fast, long-range missions in the air”, said professor Ang Haisong, lead project scientist with the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in a paper published in the peer-reviewed Unmanned Systems Technology in June.
A researcher studying similar technology at Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xian, Shaanxi province, has been reported as saying that China was developing numerous types of “transmedia vessels” that could travel in both air and water.
“They are mainly for military applications. Some can fly at supersonic speed,” the unnamed researcher told the South China Morning Post. This researcher was not involved in Ang’s study but requested not to be named because of the sensitivity of the technology.
If true, such a craft could leave surface fleets highly vulnerable to attack
This kind of “transmedia vessel”, according to Ji Wanfeng, professor at Yantai’s Naval Aviation University in Shandong province, is one of the simplest and most efficient ways to compromise an aircraft carrier fleet’s defenses.