The Chinese have reverse engineered and steal plans from other nations. One example is their J-1 stolen from Russia's Sukhoi. Under development in China is their version of the Sea Hunter drone.
A Chinese project on social media revealed that somehow, they are developing a version of an above-surface unmanned autonomous vehicle. The drone is a trimaran type UAV that is structurally the same as the American version. Whether the Chinese version is as fully capable, that is left to be seen, reported USNI.
Sources say that details of the project are unknown, the analysis is not concrete and the builder with the craft's dimensions are known.
The autonomous surface vessel is fabricated and devised under the Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program. As the threat of submarines will require an uncrewed surface vessel (USV) that go on long missions without going to the port. This system will seek out and lock on to submarines and track it like a mechanical bloodhound.
Smaller surface robotic combatants might have upgrades and extras that will give them an edge. China will not allow the U.S. Navy to get one over them, so they will pursue as a matter of fact.
Maybe the Chinese know that American nuke powered subs will not be tracked so easily by their knock off USV, making it useless to even consider tracking them. One of the best applications is to track slower diesel-electric subs of Asian countries aligned against it. These are Japan, Australia, and India with the U.S are the Quad which China begrudges as its stumbling blocks to dominance in the Indo-Pacific.
In comparison to the original Sea Hunter, the Chinese knockoff has several marked differences. The length of the Chinese version is longer and slimmer based on satellite images that were taken. Another is that is a bit bigger. Generally, one look, and the outriggers are closer to the body.
The builder of the knockoff is Jiang Tongfang New Shipbuilding Co., it is based in Jiujiang City in Jiangxi. According to the satellite images taken that indicated the drone was launched before August 30, 2019. The shipyard is on the Yangtze rivers, located 760 kilometers from the sea.
No information states if the project is an official Chinese government-funded program or a private venture. The company Jiang Tongfang New Shipbuilding does build ships for the government but is not officially linked to the People Liberation Army Navy.
USVs are already in development with Chinese firms in the defense business. One exhibited is the Tianxing-1, first seen in the 2017 China Marine Economy Expo in Zhanjiang. It used an existing RIB (rigid inflatable boat) with a 12.7 mm machine gun as the probable armament for it.
Another is the JARI catamaran with a 30-mm cannon, surface to air missiles, and dual anti-submarine torpedoes on the heavily armed platform. Compared to the American drone (USV) knockoff they are just smaller.
One big question is whether the copy can manage transoceanic travel without a hitch.
The E-2 Hawkeye has been knocked off by China in their version, the KJ-600 carrier-borne airborne early warning, and control (AEW&C). There is doubt it can match the original in operation. Intel says only one exists of U.S. Sea Hunter Drone knock off still docked at the shipyard.
Related article: US Navy Develops Sea Drones to Join Surface Fleet for Joint Attack