Chinese 'wingship' that can travel 20 times faster than a boat completes sea trials

According to Chinese state media, a natively developed ground-effect "wingship" has completed 30 critical sea trials, opening the door for further development.
Christopher McFadden
The new wingship can travel 20 times faster than a boat.
The new wingship can travel 20 times faster than a boat.


The South China Morning Post claims that China's new ground-effect "wingship" has just completed 30 sea trials. According to the state-run media company, the new vehicle could be used to airdrop supplies on islands and beaches and conduct quick search and rescue missions.

The "wingship," which seems to be an example of a ground-effect vehicle or wing-in-ground-effect craft, combines an air-cushioned vehicle and an aircraft that glides close to the ground. From the images in the article, it has a propeller engine that allows it to travel over the water's surface, and its wings allow it to fly and support itself in the air.

A ground effect vehicle (GEV) uses the "ground effect," which is the decrease in aerodynamic drag that an object experiences when it approaches a surface to achieve lift and boost efficiency. This air cushion between the surface and the object reduces drag and enables the object to gain lift at lower speeds.

One famous example of this kind of vehicle was the Soviet-era ekranoplan which could travel only a few meters above the water's surface and had a massive, 70-meter-long wing. The vehicle, built for military applications such as moving people and equipment over water, could move at speeds up to 400 km/h.

According to a report from Science and Technology Daily on Monday, the new Chinese vehicle can travel for six hours continuously at speeds of up to 150 mph (240 kph). The vehicle reportedly has a total takeoff weight of 4.5 tonnes and a passenger capacity of up to 12.

According to Shi Yajun, a researcher at the China Ship Scientific Research Centre, which developed the "wingship," "Compared to amphibious aircraft or previous generations of 'wingships,' this third generation of the ground-effect vehicle with high wave resistance has significantly leveled up in terms of seaworthiness.”

“That will effectively guarantee year-round availability and safety in rough seas,” she added.

Shi also claimed the vehicle could move 20 times faster than a typical surface boat. If true, the craft could reach an accident scene quickly and stay nearby for extended periods while accurate search and identification operations were carried out utilizing its onboard detection systems.

It could then glide above the target and precisely drop life-saving equipment and emergency supplies, land in neighboring waters, and sail to the location. The vessel might also transport saved persons to a safe location and a medical facility.

The SCMP also reports that the new ground-effect vehicle will play a vital role in the country's maritime strategy and will be a part of a speedy transportation network between Hainan and Chinese-controlled islands in the South China Sea.

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