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Pictures appear to show attack version of helicopter

By ZHAO LEI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-01-15 08:55
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China seems to have developed an attack version of its Z-20, the nation's first domestically developed medium-lift utility helicopter, according to pictures published online by weapon fans.

The pictures showed a Z-20 with two stub wings flying with what appeared to be several missiles under the external wings.

The rotorcraft is apparently a prototype conducting flight tests as there was no unit code on its body, which is part of the standard paint scheme for aircraft already delivered to the Chinese military.

In addition to the new wings and missiles, the helicopter is equipped with an air data boom system, an essential calculation device used during aircraft prototype flight tests.

The State-owned aircraft giant Aviation Industry Corp of China, maker of all military aircraft in the country, has not responded to a request for comment.

Wang Yanan, editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said that the attack variant of the Z-20 will be capable of striking various types of ground targets and providing fire support to troops, and it will strengthen the combat capability of air assault forces.

"It will be very flexible in operations- it can perform a wide range of tasks- such as providing tactical deployments of soldiers and fire support for transport helicopters-while also having the ability to attack ground enemies," he said.

Cui Yiliang, editor-in-chief of naval equipment magazine Modern Ships, said the Z-20's attack variant will strongly improve the combat capability of the People's Liberation Army Navy's surface fleets.

"It is capable of fulfilling a wide range of missions that other Chinese helicopters have difficulty executing, including anti-submarine and anti-ship combat, signal relays for ship-launched missiles and special assaults," he explained.

The Z-20 made its public debut at the National Day parade in Beijing on Oct 1, 2019, that commemorated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

The twin-engine, multipurpose helicopter is capable of operating in different environments and landforms, including plateaus and the sea, so it can also be deployed on ships, according to its designers.

Powered by two advanced Chinese turboshaft engines, the helicopter is mainly tasked with transportation missions and can be conveniently refitted to execute other types of operations, said Chen Guang, the Z-20's project manager.

Some older transport helicopter models deployed by aviation units of the PLA Ground Force have been equipped with simple weapons such as rockets, but their fighting ability is limited because of the outdated fire-control systems.

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