DN - Defence Notes

Analysis: China hones naval defence systems

17th November 2017 - 07:11 GMT | by Wendell Minnick in Taipei

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Chinese companies have honed their maritime and naval defence systems via experience gained from their land reclamation efforts and base building in the South China Sea

In September 2013 the CETC Ocean Information Technology Company (COI) was created as a new endeavour by the state-controlled China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) to develop marine information technology. 

In March 2014 COI further expanded its development in the area with a strategic cooperation framework agreement with state-controlled China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), with the goal of collaborating in the development of naval vessel equipment and combining industrialisation and ‘informationisation’ to extend cooperation within military industry.

At this year’s Defense & Security 2017 exhibition in Bangkok, COI showcased a variety of new platforms and equipment that clearly indicates an aggressive expansion in maritime know-how for both defence and commercial applications. 

Three COI products illustrate lessons learned from the South China Sea. The Integrated Information Floating Platform, Island Reef-Based Information Equipment and the Coast Reef-Based Observation Information System are all designed for stationary open-water operations in South China Sea conditions.

The Integrated Information Floating Platform is composed of a three-pillar floating platform (similar to a drilling platform and pictured above), a task system and support system protected by a radome. It has a payload capacity of 100t and performs multiple missions such as marine ecological monitoring, radar, photoelectric, automatic identification system, automatic surveillance broadcast, electro-magnetic monitoring, meteorological parameter acquisition, target monitoring and communications relay and up-link. 

The platform serves as a ‘marine integrated information network node’ that ‘integrates marine multi-dimensional information perception, marine information transmission, multi-source information fusion processing and integrated information applications', according to CETC. 

The system is reminiscent of but significantly smaller than the floating US-built Sea-Based X-Band Radar (SBX-1) used for ballistic missile defence early warning.

The second platform is the Island Reef-Based Information Equipment, which works as a node for a comprehensive information network that integrates marine multi-dimensional information perception, marine information transmission, multi-source information fusion processing and integrated information application services. 

It is composed of a platform erected on a reef or small islet, a task system and support system protected with a radome. The system has the same mission capabilities as the Integrated Information Floating Platform. ‘It is the key equipment for the detection and protection of islands and reefs.’

The third system is the Coast Reef-Based Observation Information System, which integrates marine multi-dimensional information perception, marine information transmission, multi-source information fusion processing and integrated information services. ‘It is mainly composed of the main body and electronic system, and can be deployed on coastlines of islands where power supply is guaranteed.’ 

It performs many of the same missions as the two aforementioned platforms. However, it also provides an information support platform for collaborative law enforcement and to safeguard sovereignty of coastal areas. 

The system adopts open-system architecture, standard and universal interface protocols that can be equipped with a variety of sensor devices according to requirements, access different user data on demand, and display the situation after processing data.

CETC Ocean also displayed the first bionic ‘Fishbot’ for unmanned underwater vehicle missions. It is capable of operating for 150 hours and is designed to emulate the tail movement of a fish with the nose styled after the swordfish. This is not the first time a Chinese-built robotic bionic UUV has been exhibited for underwater missions, but this appears to be the first operational prototype. 

The FishBot will be shown at the upcoming Oceanography International in London  in March 2018, said a CETC Ocean representative. The Fishbot can operate in a zero radius bend in a ‘cluster collaboration’ with other Fishbot UUVs. 

Concealment is highlighted by the fact that the noise it generates is similar to ‘biological swimming'. Missions include water quality detection, underwater target detection, underwater surveying and mapping, security monitoring, salvage, archaeological exploration and scientific research.

CETC Ocean also unveiled its new sonar buoy system for submarine target detection. The ‘undersea target detection system’ uses multi-acoustic sensors, a high-precision navigation system and data processing system compatible with 3D imaging sonar, side-scan sonar, shallow sonar and navigation sonar. 

‘It combines the advanced algorithms of point cloud data processing and image stitching technology to achieve highly efficient and multifunctional data processing and analysis, in order to achieve high-precision and real-time target detection and fine analysis of targets for the undersea acoustic environment.’

The 3D image sonar has an operating frequency of 375kHz/610kHz, 30mm resolution and effective working distance of 1-120m. The side-scan sonar has an operating frequency of 150kHz/450kHZ, 125mm (horizon) resolution and 4.5-150m effective working distance. 

The shallow sonar has an operating frequency of 94kHz/110kHz, 50mm (depth) resolution and 5mm-400m effective working distance. The integrated navigation system has a heading accuracy of 0.1° and positioning accuracy 0.02°.

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