China’s new Z-20 medium utility helicopter has come closer to full operational capability by completing high-altitude tests at Xiahe airfield in Gansu Province. Photos of two Z-20s—serials 635, 636 bearing the insignia of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)—emerged on the Chinese internet, indicating that the helicopters were handed over to the service from their manufacturer the Harbin Aircraft Industry Group (HAIG), for final tests and evaluations. The tests were conducted at up to 4,000 m (13,200 feet).
The Z-20 requirement dates back to the 1980s, when China was seeking a medium utility helicopter for operations in the mountainous west region. The PLAAF eventually acquired 24 Sikorsky S-70C-2s with the enhanced General Electric T700-701A engines. It was reported that the S-70’s performance in the highlands was unmatched, even with the later acquisition by China of Mil Mi-17V5 helicopters from Russia.
Development of the so-called “10-tonne helicopter project” started in 2006 when a small-scale model of the Z-20 was shown at that year’s Zhuhai Airshow. But it was not until December 23, 2013 that the Z-20 made its first flight. It made its first public appearance at the 2016 Zhuhai Airshow.
At first look, the Z-20 bears a strong resemblance to the Sikorsky UH-60/S-70 Black Hawk series. It is commonly referred to as the Chinese Black Hawk. However, Z-20 designer Deng Jinghui told Chinese media that the Z-20 is a fly-by-wire design. Key visual differences are five main rotor blades on the Z-20, and more angular tail–to-fuselage joint frame. Military observer Huo Yanbin thinks that these features will give the Z-20 more lift and greater cabin capacity and endurance than the Black Hawk.
The most recent photos also show a new fairing installed aft of the engine exhausts and another on the tail spine, which are likely housings for satellite communications or the BeiDou (Big Dipper) satellite navigation system.
A crucial part of a successful development of the Z-20 would be the integration of its engines. It is widely believed that the primary powerplant for the Z-20 is the domestic WZ-10 turboshaft engine, providing 1,600 kW (about 2,145 shp). In comparison, the latest UH-60 GE T700-701D engines produce 1,500 kW (about 2,011 shp).
Beyond highland operations, Huo thinks the Z-20 will be a key air mobility and projection platform for the PLA, and will also provide the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) with a much-needed multi-role naval helicopter. Huo says that compared to the Harbin Z-8/18 series, the smaller size of the Z-20 and its newer systems will enable the Z-20 to be interoperable across all PLAN ships, yet large enough to install a full suite of anti-submarine capabilities. These are not found in the navy’s current Harbin Z-9 and Kamov Ka-28 helicopters.
"After having copied several French helicopter designs, China has put in service the first copy of a US-designed helicopter, the Z-20, which it openly acknowledges is a copy of the Sikorsky Blackhawk. "
Of course China never copies anybody else's stuff.
.New online photos of China's Z-20 10-ton utility helicopter have sparked heated discussion on the Internet. Let’s take a look at the new helicopter.
The Z-20 is the informal name of a medium-lift (9-10 tons) utility helicopter (similar to the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk) developed independently by China. The official name of this helicopter will be announced when it is commissioned.
In recent years, a large number of Z-10, Z-19 and other armed helicopters have joined the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), making up for China's lack of reconnaissance and attack helicopters.
However, China has been lacking a 10-ton general tactical helicopter to carry out assault transport, airlift and logistic support tasks. Although China has the large military transport aircraft Y-20, it is more suitable for remote transport and delivery tasks. Short-range transport and assault operations still need a general helicopter like the Z-20.
China acquired 24 US Black Hawk helicopters in the 1980s. These helicopters helped China fully understand the leading aviation technology of the US. The Black Hawk’s flight performance, material technology and reliability were much higher than those of China’s homegrown helicopters at that time.
In the 1980s, it was said that the Black Hawk was the only helicopter in China that could be used in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The Black Hawk played a huge role in many remote areas of China. As late as the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, eighteen UH-60 Black Hawks were dispatched to conduct rescue operations, although these helicopters had been in high-load service for many years.
China once considered copying the Black Hawk when it was first introduced to China. Although the model was only the civil export model, the technology was something beyond China’s reach at that time. For example, the manufacturing process of large-size titanium parts used in Black Hawk couldn’t be found in Chine even in the 1990s.
Although the Black Hawk was a product of the 1970s, China was not able to come up with a similar product even in the early 21st century. As it is with most models, the learning process from the Black Hawk was a very difficult process requiring countless accumulation in materials, workmanship, processing and research and development, as well as 20 years of running-in and an experienced team.
The arduous course of the development of the Chinese helicopter industry has actually been a painful process that countries with less developed aviation industries must go through.
The Z-20 medium-lift utility helicopter is said to be in the late stage of development. It is expected that in the near future, the final design work of the Z-20 will be completed and the helicopter will soon join the PLA Army and Navy service.
In the foreseeable future, the combination of the Y-20 transport aircraft and Z-20 utility helicopter will effectively link the strategic and tactical transport in the PLA.
Disclaimer: The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author from the Ifeng News and do not reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn. Chinamil.com.cn does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. If the article carries photographs or images, we do not vouch for their authenticity
Once produced in sufficient numbers the Z-20 could replace a fleet of Russian Mi-17 helicopters in service with the PLAAF.
The Z-20 is a copy of the Sikorsky S-70 which is a basic military utility helicopter of the US Army where it is known as the UH-60 Black Hawk. The original helicopter is also in widespread use worldwide. It appeared that Sikorsky licensed production of this helicopter in China for non-military use. It seems that China is violating this agreement. Civilian Sikorsky S-70C-2 helicopters are used by the PLAAF since 1984. A total of 24 Sikorsky helicopters were obtained. Deliveries ceased in 1989 due to imposed sanctions against China. The Z-20 made its first flight almost 30 years since China acquired the original Sikorsky S-70 helicopters.
The Z-20 helicopter accommodates about 12-15 fully-equipped troops. It has a payload capacity of around 5 000 kg. It can carry around 1 000 kg internally and 4 000 kg externally. It can transport various loads, such as vehicles and artillery pieces underslung externally.
This utility helicopter can be armed with machine guns and possibly other weapons, such as anti-tank and air-to-air missiles, or pods with unguided rockets.
There is a nose-mounted FLIR/TV turret.
The Z-20 has some minor differences comparing with the Black Hawk. Notably it has a five-blade rotor, comparing with the Black Hawk's four-blade. It seems that the Z-20 uses rotor, engines and some other components of the Z-10 attack helicopter. It is speculated that this machine is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-76C turboshaft engines. Also it could be powered by a WZ-10 turboshafts, developing around 2 400 shp each. Some sources report that development of new transmission system has been assisted by Eurocopter.
The basic utility helicopter can be modified to suit many military roles. Some sources report that marine version of this helicopter is under development.
Michel Van said:Interesting, but a UH-60 copy ?
Is this form follow function of a box with engine and aerodynamic cover ?
fredymac said:Bell, Boeing, and Sikorsky all competed for the UTTAS contract with Boeing and Sikorsky proceeding to final evaluation. All 3 designs were distinctly different even though they were designed to the same specifications. Form follows function in the extent that they are all helicopters but cabin shape, door design, tail boom placement, etc are subject to design preferences.
sferrin said:Michel Van said:Interesting, but a UH-60 copy ?
Is this form follow function of a box with engine and aerodynamic cover ?
I get so tired of hearing "form follows function" as it's lazy and not really supported by reality. Yes, in gross terms, there is something to it, but not in the details. Did the X-32 look like the X-35? The YF-23 like the YF-22? Does the J-20 or T-50 look like the F-22? Does an AR-15 look like a Tavor or SCAR? Of course not. Because there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat. When it looks just like something else it's because it was copied. Period.
Unless you're the company that developed and now builds Blackhawk and has been busting it's hump to get them into the hands of customers around the world, only to see a blatant clone the will no doubt end up on the market in competition to the real deal. Then you probably get quite upset.kcran567 said:Blackhawk 20+ year old design,maybe not to get too upset about, now if China starts flying a Raider clone in a few short years, then something needs to be done to stop China's pilfering of Tech.
Maybe in some cases the tech is being transferred with permission to highest bidder?