Chinese arms companies are exhibiting a series of advanced weapons including an unmanned 20-ton "Aegis-class destroyer" with vertical launch missile cells and a heavy infantry fighting vehicle derived from a VT4 main battle tank at the 14th International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi from Sunday to Thursday.
Developed by China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC,) the JARI unmanned surface vessel is equipped with a phased array radar, vertical-launched missiles and torpedoes despite its small size of 15 meters and low displacement of 20 tons, China Central Television reported on Tuesday.
These weapons are usually only seen on frigates and destroyers with displacement of thousands of tons, and their use on a ship as small as the JARI makes the vessel the most integrated naval drone in the world, CCTV reported.
"Given how small the ship is, this setup can be considered very powerful," a Beijing-based military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times on Wednesday, calling the ship a "mini Aegis-class destroyer."
Its small size gives it more mobility and some stealth, the expert said.
The ship can track naval targets within visual range, aerial targets 30 kilometers away and underwater targets seven kilometers away. It can then attack with missiles, torpedoes and guns, according to the report.
The JARI can be remotely controlled, but also uses artificial intelligence to autonomously navigate itself and undertake combat activities once it receives commands, the report said.
Without operators on board, the drone ship does not face the risk of casualties. It can also be integrated into a larger formation of other ships, which would be very formidable, the expert said.
The ship has gathered a lot of attention from military representatives from many countries, CCTV quoted CISC representative Zheng Guangfu as saying.
Another weapon at IDEX that attracted military observers is the new VT4 heavy infantry fighting vehicle by North Industries Group Corporation Limited (NORINCO).
As the name suggests, the vehicle is derived from the VT4 main battle tank and optimized for urban warfare, CCTV said in a separate report on Tuesday.
It is equipped with extra armor and explosive reactive armor to increase its survival capability. In addition to the front-facing main gun, two extra machineguns are installed on the rear of the vehicle to cover more angles, the report said.
The vehicle probably weighs around 50 tons and can carry around 10 people, the anonymous expert said.