Device in Indonesian Waters Identified as Chinese Underwater Drone

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Experts have determined that an underwater surveillance drone found in Indonesian sovereign waters was Chinese-built. 

The object, described as “missile-like” was a Chinese autonomous underwater glider, Haiyi, also known as “sea wing,” Kevin Wong, a principal manned systems analyst for defense analytics firm Janes, said in a document on Sunday, reports CNBC

Wong said the device is the third identical underwater glider that has been found in Indonesian waters in the past two years. It was discovered by a local fisherman off Selayar Island in Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province and turned over to the country’s navy. 

The analyst said it isn’t known exactly where and why the drone was deployed, but pointed out it was found in a location “disconnected from international waterways and extremely remote from China’s adjacent maritime claims.”

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Wong added that there were not any known Chinese scientific surveys in 2020 in or near Indonesian waters using the gliders. All underwater drones that were used in the last known operation in December 2019 have all been recovered, he said. 

Such gliders are normally used when conducting scientific research, like gathering data on oxygen and chlorophyll levels and water temperature in the underwater environment said Wong, with such data being useful for naval operations such as submarine and anti-submarine warfare. 

He added China has a “clearly mandated Military-Civil Fusion policy” for using civilian and commercial space knowledge and technology for its military, and the information gathered will “likely be exploited by the Chinese military.”

As the gliders that have been found are near strategic waterways, that implies China will use the data to enhance its military’s ability to operate there, Wong said. 


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