Na­tion de­vel­op­ing fastest am­phibi­ous multi-role ve­hi­cle

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China is de­vel­op­ing the world’s fastest am­phibi­ous multi-role ve­hi­cle, which can be used in per­son­nel and sup­ply trans­porta­tion at sea as well as for spe­cial warfare.

The four-wheeled ve­hi­cle is be­ing de­vel­oped at the China North Ve­hi­cle Re­search In­sti­tute in Bei­jing’s south­west­ern sub­urbs. The fa­cil­ity is one of the big­gest in­sti­tu­tions un­der China North In­dus­tries Group Corp, the coun­try’s largest maker of land ar­ma­ments.

The ve­hi­cle uses a v-shaped hull to min­i­mize the hy­draulic drag. It is pro­pelled by com­pact pump jets in waters with the wheels re­tracted.

With a weight of 5.5 met­ric tons, the proof-of-con­cept ve­hi­cle reached a top speed of 50 kilo­me­ters per hour as it trav­eled through calm waters dur­ing a test ear­lier this year, the in­sti­tute said. This bested the world’s fastest am­phibi­ous ve­hi­cle of its kind, made by the Bri­tish com­pany Gibbs Am­phib­ians, which has a max­i­mum speed of 48 km/h in wa­ter.

The in­sti­tute has not pub­lished other specs about the ve­hi­cle such as its land speed and op­er­a­tional range.

Am­phibi­ous ve­hi­cles are mainly used for mil­i­tary pur­poses and are usu­ally launched at sea from am­phibi­ous as­sault ships, am­phibi­ous trans­port docks or hov­er­craft to con­duct a forced en­try into semi-aquatic ar­eas. Their core mis­sion is to spear­head a beach and to se­cure coast­line for land­ing troops. Other tasks in­clude trans­port­ing per­son­nel be­tween shores and ships and pro­vid­ing fire sup­port.

Most am­phibi­ous ve­hi­cles in the world move slowly in wa­ter. For in­stance, the United States Ma­rine Corps’ As­sault Am­phibi­ous Ve­hi­cle, com­monly known as AAV7, has a top wa­ter speed of 13.2 km/h, and Italy’s Iveco Su­perAV, an eight-wheeled am­phibi­ous ve­hi­cle, is able to move 10 km/h in wa­ter. The US and Ja­pan are de­vel­op­ing new­gen­er­a­tion mil­i­tary am­phibi­ous ve­hi­cles that will be ca­pa­ble of trav­el­ing at least 40 km/h.

A chief de­signer of the ve­hi­cle at China North Ve­hi­cle Re­search In­sti­tute who re­quested anonymity said de­sign­ing such ve­hi­cles is never an easy job, as the en­gi­neers over­came a num­ber of tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties.

“We spent a lot of time and re­sources on find­ing proper meth­ods to re­duce hy­draulic drag and the hull’s weight. We also fo­cused on de­vis­ing a set of equip­ment to make sure the ve­hi­cle would be able to move fast on both land and wa­ter,” he said, adding that all of the ma­jor parts used on the ve­hi­cle were de­vel­oped by Chi­nese en­gi­neers on their own.

“De­signs for some parts on this ve­hi­cle had never been worked out by oth­ers be­fore us,” the de­signer said. “We are lead­ing in this field.”

Qin Zhen, ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of Ord­nance Knowl­edge mag­a­zine, said the abil­ity to move fast in wa­ter is cru­cial to any am­phibi­ous com­bat ve­hi­cle. “It is dif­fi­cult for them to use rapid-chang­ing ma­neu­vers in waters to dodge en­e­mies’ fire, there­fore mov­ing fast is the most re­li­able way to in­crease their sur­viv­abil­ity,” he said.

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