China developing fastest amphibious multi-role vehicle

BEIJING • 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 warfare.

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

The vehicle uses a V-shaped hull to minimise hydraulic drag. It is propelled by compact pump jets in the water, with the wheels retracted.

With a weight of 5.5 tonnes, the proof-of-concept vehicle reached a top speed of 50 kmh as it travelled through calm waters during a test earlier this year, the institute said. This beat the world's fastest amphibious vehicle of its kind, made by British company Gibbs Amphibians, which has a maximum speed of 48 kmh in water. The institute has not published other specs about the vehicle.

Amphibious vehicles are mainly used for military purposes and are usually launched at sea from amphibious assault ships, 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 move slowly in water. The US Marine Corps' Assault Amphibious Vehicle, commonly known as AAV7, has a top water speed of 13.2 kmh, while Italy's Iveco Super-AV, an eight-wheeled amphibious vehicle, is able to move at 10 kmh in water. The United States and Japan are developing new-generation military amphibious vehicles that will be capable of speeds of at least 40 kmh.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 15, 2017, with the headline 'China developing fastest amphibious multi-role vehicle'. Print Edition | Subscribe