China: Hubschrauber Z-20 soll in der Luft betankt werden, Stealth-Version nicht ausgeschlossen

13 Jan. 2022 06:15 clock

The Chinese helicopter Z-20 should be able to be refueled in the air if necessary, announced the chief designer of the helicopter. He also doesn’t rule out the development of a stealth version. In addition, the helicopter will be equipped with safety features such as additional airbags.

China’s Z-20 tactical helicopter may be upgraded with aerial refueling capabilities. Deng Jinghui, the helicopter’s chief designer, announced this on Tuesday. He also did not rule out the possible development of a stealth version of the helicopter. He also proposed the development of a Chinese heavy-duty helicopter. In a Tuesday from China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast interview he said:

“Since helicopters have a shorter range compared to fixed-wing aircraft, we are considering extending them with in-flight refueling. We can also use other aircraft to move helicopters for use at greater distances.”

Other possible improvements are the use of additional safety devices such as airbags to better protect the crew, as well as further improvements in the vibration and noise reduction of the helicopter, said Jinghui.

The media also speculated about the development of a variety of variants of the type based on the original transport version of the Z-20, including an attack version, a general-purpose ship-based version, and a sea-based anti-submarine version.

In May 2021, a full-scale model of a stealth helicopter on display at a facility owned by the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute was shown in a media report. Some observers think it could be a stealth variant of the Z-20. The chief designer did not give a clear answer to the question of whether such a version of the Z-20 was in development. He merely commented:

“Helicopters are combat-capable low-flying aircraft that play a unique role in special operations. I’m interested in this question too, so let’s look together at a future answer.”

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Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, said in an interview with the Global Timesthat the stealth helicopter could be a future-oriented research project. He added that this type of aircraft could be a good choice for assault and breakthrough missions because it is more difficult to spot and therefore has a higher chance of survival.

When asked about the aerodynamic design of a heavy-lift helicopter developed by China itself, Jinghui replied that it would be decided on the basis of China’s operational requirements and technological capabilities. It will likely have main and tail rotors like the CH-53E, as opposed to the CH-47’s tandem rotor design. The reason for this is that China now has better technological reserves in the area of ​​the main rotor, so that the development risk is lower, said Jinghui. China is reportedly developing a 40-tonne class heavy transport helicopter with Russia.

The Z-20 is based on the design of the US S-70C-2 helicopter, a civil US export version of the legendary military Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, of which China was in a phase of diplomatic rapprochement with the US in the 1980s could buy two dozen. In the 1990s, the Chinese leadership decided to develop its own helicopter in the performance class of around 10 tons at the level of the S-70 / UH-60. These are by no means copies: a number of basic layout and construction solutions have been adopted, while the main units and some aspects of the overall concept have been developed entirely independently. For this reason, the Z-20 is outwardly similar to the S-70, but the drive system and the fly-by-wire control have serious differences, as well as the instrumentation. The very first prototype of the Z-20 was built in 2013 and first flew on December 23, 2013. In the fall of 2015, various sources reported five test helicopters of this type. Since spring 2019, reports have been on the delivery of series models of the type to various customers, including land-based units and the navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

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