China touts vaporware robotic military ship

China showed off crude models of a planned robotic military ship the D3000. It would have a trimaran tumblehome hull, with armament that includes autocannons and anti-ship missiles, as well as launching tubes for small unmanned underwater vehicles, torpedoes, or mines.

DARPA has built a 131-foot, 145 ton robotic Sea Hunter. It has a speed of only 27 knots, but that’s fine because it’s conceived as a test ship for future unmanned operations. Conceptually, the Sea Hunter and its follow-ons would also take on roles like tracking enemy submarines and mine detection, as opposed to antiship role reflected the D3000 concept. The US navy has taken over the Sea Hunter and will build two more soon.

DARPA’s Sea Hunter, a 100-foot unmanned surface

The D3000 is a 98-foot-long, stealthy robotic trimaran warship designed to operate autonomously for months. Notably, this system—which appears to be tagged for export—is being offered by the China Aerospace and Science Technology Corporation, a Chinese defense contractor whose primary strength is in missiles and other aerospace technologies. (It’s the company that’s building the T Flight, China’s answer to the Hyperloop.) CASC notes that the D3000 can either operate by itself, or as part of a larger task force with manned ships.

China has already tested (and tried to sell) other armed unmanned surface vehicles. The High Speed Intercept Boat is a 42-foot trimaran with speeds of 80 knots and can be armed with machine guns and anti-tank guided missiles, potentially operating in unmanned swarms. It is being tested by the PLAN, and made its international debut in 2016 in Malaysia.

The China Shipbuilding Trading Company has offered a 2,400-ton trimaran frigate (manned) at the IDEX 2017 arms fair in the UAE earlier this year.