How China’s New Extra-Large Underwater Drone Compares to US’ Manta Ray

China showcased an advanced underwater drone, the UUV300CB, at an exhibition in Malaysia earlier this month, as both Washington and Beijing race to develop uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUV).

Chinese company Poly Technology displayed a scale model of the underwater drone, incorporating a cutaway showing its internal structure, at the Defence Services Asia exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, maritime affairs-related platform Naval News has reported.

The UUV-300 series of extra-large uncrewed underwater vehicles (XLUUVs) are intended to be armed and exported, underscoring Beijing’s determination to develop autonomous underwater weapons.

The emergence of the UUV-300 series comes as the capabilities of uncrewed underwater drones are rapidly improving. The recent Russia-Ukraine conflict has accelerated this technological revolution, reshaping naval warfare.

China and South Korea have taken the lead in promoting armed UUVs, which allow remote delivery of payloads over vast distances while keeping human crews out of harm’s way.

China’s willingness to export the UUV-300 gives Beijing an edge over Western nations in proliferating disruptive undersea drone technologies.

The United States is also developing these systems, such as the Manta Ray, built by Northrop Grumman in collaboration with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

The UUV-300’s quoted range of 450 nautical miles (834 km) is modest but realistic. They will be capable of carrying sea mines and smaller UUVs and of firing lightweight torpedoes, as demonstrated by its UUV300CD variant, according to Naval News. The drones may also have the potential to carry and launch missiles.

The UUV-300CB is 11.5-meters (38-feet) long and weighs 50 tonnes, according to an analysis by H. I. Sutton, a submarine and sub-surface systems expert.

The UUV-300 may be derived from previous XLUUV developmental models tested near China’s Hainan Island. Beijng has aggressively pursued at least five distinct XLUUV designs, several much larger than the UUV-300.

Newsweek contacted Poly Technology, the Chinese foreign ministry, and DARPA for comment in requests sent via email.

“Based on drones in the water, and efforts at defense shows, China is leading the world in this emerging technology,” Sutton posted on his website on May 9.

A Northrop Grumman uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) is seen in an image from the company’s website on May 13, 2024. China has showcased an advanced underwater drone, the UUV300CB, as Washington and Beijing race to…

Northrop Grumman

The U.S. Manta Ray project has made progress in the past months.

In February and March, the 12-meter (39-foot) long Manta-Ray UUV underwent in-water testing off the coast of Southern California. On May 5, DARPA said a full-scale prototype of the Manta Ray drone had completed its first sea test.

The Manta Ray prototype has so far demonstrated that it can be transported by standard shipping containers and rapidly deployed.

“Our successful, full-scale Manta Ray testing validates the vehicle’s readiness to advance toward real-world operations after being rapidly assembled in the field from modular subsections,” said Dr. Kyle Woerner, DARPA program manager for Manta Ray on May 5.

“The craft is designed with several payload bays of multiple sizes and types to enable a wide variety of naval mission sets,” he said.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Read More

Aadil Brar