The US Defense Department said the Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) stolen by the Chinese Navy on 15 December 2016 is part of an "unclassified" Littoral Battlespace Sensing-Glider (LBS-G) system. "Unclassified" is not strictly correct. Teledyne Webb along with the USN Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command developed the LBS-G.
In the 15 December case the Glider was apparently collecting oceanographic data (such as sea water salinity, water temperature, depth, other seafloor characteristics, sound speed and other factors) to assist the USN in ASW, [mine warfare] MIW, [anti-mine-warfare] AMW, and Special Ops. Put another way the Glider assists USN sensor platforms and databases to track foreign submarines (including Chinese) or mines and aids the discrete movement of US submarines to evade detection.
On 20 December 2016 (US time) is was reported that China has returned the Glider in question.
The LBS-G is a long endurance UUV propelled by changes in buoyancy along with its wings and tail-fin steering. The 60 kg LBS-Gs can operate submerged up to 5 months using Lithium-ion Batteries (LIBs). LBS-Gs are deployed by USN and USNS ships (like United States Naval Ship (USNS) Bowditch) around the world.
Location ofLittoral Battlespace Sensing-Glider (LBS-G) UUV theft.