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What are China's underwater drones - Sea Wing Gliders?

Tulika Tandon

Why in News?

China has deployed a fleet of underwater drones which it calls Sea Wing glider in the Indian Ocean as per several media reports. The defence analyst HI Sutton claimed this news. 

Most recently a fisherman in Indonesia also referred to as Saeruddin, brought in a very different kind of haul, catching something that matched the Chinese underwater drone. Two other very similar ocean glider-type unmanned undersea vehicles have been found in Indonesian waters in the past two years as shown by various Twitter handles.  

About Sea Wing Glider/ Haiyi

China calls these underwater drones as sea wing gliders or a Haiyi which have been spotted in the Indian Ocean to make observations for naval intelligence purposes. 

What is a sea wing glider?

  1. It is an unmanned underwater vehicle that has been developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institution of Oceanology. 
  2. Sea wing also moves through the waters using buoyancy compensation system filled with oil.
  3. There is a glider present that is used for oceanographic research and also has onboard sensors to measure the seawater temperature, salinity, its turbidity, the amount of oxygen, chlorophyll and ocean current changes. 
  4. They were also deployed in 2015 in East China sea and later in the South China sea. 

What is the purpose of the wings?

  1. The gliders are unpowered and have large wings so that they can run for longer periods. 
  2. The gilders are suitable for longer missions 
  3. It is believed that China deployed underwater drones in the Indian Ocean, says report

Why is it significant?

  1. The timing could not be more surprising as India and China are in a standoff at Ladakh. 
  2. As many as 14 such gliders are said to be in the Indian Ocean.
  3. The Chinese counterparts consider the move as completely innocuous. They maintained that it was only for oceanographic purposes. 
  4. The data, however, is suspected to be gathered for naval purposes
  5. General Rawat, CDS of India said that more than 120 warships had been deployed in the Indian ocean which is why the deployment of China is considered with naval purposes. This is being done to take over the strategic Indo Pacific route. 
  6. Recently many countries like Germany and other European countries are taking interest in the Indo Pacific route 

Way Forward

India must develop the structure of its navy and military to protect the boundaries. For that, it requires long term structured planning ad defence forces capacity building. To keep prosperity and sovereignty the importance lies in maintaining a peaceful sea line. 

Also Read| What is NCMC? Know here

FAQ

What is meant by the seven seas?

The Seven Seas include the Arctic, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, Indian, and Southern Oceans.

How many water bodies is India surrounded by?

India is surrounded by the Arabian sea, the Indian ocean and the Bay of Bengal which makes it three water bodies

Where has China recently deployed its underwater drones?

China has recently deployed its underwater drones in the Indian Ocean

What are China's underwater drones called?

China's underwater drones are called Sea Wing or Haiyi

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