China Deploys En Masse Underwater Drones in Indian Ocean: Report


China has deployed a fleet of underwater drones in the Indian Ocean. (Representative)


  • China has deployed underwater drones called Sea Wing (Haiyi)
  • It can work for months, making observations for marine intelligence
  • These gliders are similar to those used by the US Navy

New Jersey:

China has deployed a fleet of underwater drones called the Sea Wing (Haiyi) in the Indian Ocean that can operate for months and make observations for naval intelligence purposes, according to defense analyst HI Sutton.

In a letter for Forbes magazine, HI Sutton said these sea gliders that the Chinese are using “en masse” are a type of unscrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) that launched in mid-December 2019 and was recovered in February after over 3,400 observations.

Citing government sources, HI Sutton said in his report that these gliders are similar to those used by the US Navy, one of which was seized by Beijing in 2016 for “safe navigation of passing ships”.

“At face value, it can be surprising that China is now using these types of UUV on a massive scale in the Indian Ocean. China has also deployed the sea wing from an icebreaker in the Arctic.” HI Sutton wrote.

According to the defense expert, reports from December last year indicated that 14 would be employed in the Indian Ocean mission, but only 12 were used. HI Sutton said these gliders don’t come with large wings for gliding that can run for long periods of time, adding that they’re not fast or agile, but rather are used for long-range missions.

In addition, the defense analyst said that these Chinese gliders deployed in the Indian Ocean have reportedly been collecting oceanographic data that “sounds harmless” but is commonly collected for naval intelligence purposes. “


Given the growing challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, Chief of Defense Chief Bipin Rawat said earlier this month that the world was witnessing a race for strategic bases in the Indian Ocean region (IOR), adding that it was only gaining momentum will win in the times to come.

“Lately, in addition to the geostrategic competition in the Indo-Pacific, we have also seen a race for strategic locations and bases in the Indian Ocean, which will only gain momentum in the coming times,” said General Rawat when delivering a keynote address at the Global Dialogue Security Summit.

CDS Rawat had said, “In the military arena, technology must be a deterrent, not a source of destruction. Our approach to security must therefore move from a unilateral to a multilateral mode that requires increased training with partner countries to strengthen the future.”

He said, based on the challenges India is facing, “we need structured long-term planning for the capacity building and capability development of our defense forces.”


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