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Z-20 10-ton Helicopter - Variants

Due to its excellent versatility, the famous Black Hawk helicopter has derived from the basic assault transport type special operations type, electronic combat type, search and rescue type, medical rescue type, shipborne anti-submarine type, shipborne transportation and many other models. Based on the same platform, the logistics burden has been greatly reduced, and the convenience of maintenance has been improved.

The Z-20 will be able to be deployed aboard any air-capable frigate, destroyer, amphibious assault ship or aircraft carrier and handle patrol, reconnaissance, rescue, supply and anti-submarine mission. "Judging from information available now, the Z-20 will mainly be used as a transport vehicle, but because it is designed to be capable of serving multiple purposes, it can be refitted to conduct attack, early-warning, refueling or anti-submarine missions," Chen Hong, a researcher at the PLA Air Force Command Institute in Beijing, told Beijing News.

As the Chinese Navy's first high-performance 10-ton general-purpose helicopter, the arrival of the Z-20F brought "endless dawn" to the vigorously developing Chinese Navy. So far, the basic Z-20 has been tested by ships. In the future, the Chinese navy may derive at least 3 models based on the basic Z-20.

Since the development of the Z-20 became known to the public, analysts have been predicting that it can spawn many different variations for vessel-based transport, search and rescue, medical support and special operations, among others. The Z-20 will see wide applications similar to the US? UH-60 Black Hawk series, Wang Yanan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times 07 January 2021. Its flexibility will allow the Z-20 to conduct different missions more efficiently and significantly lower mass production costs, analysts said. Deng Jinghui, the chief designer at the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, said on China Central Television in November 2019 that he hopes the Z-20 would become the most-delivered type of helicopter in the country and remain in service for a long time.

Z-20 anti-submarine variant

Z-20FFirst of all, the anti-submarine version of the Straight 20 is urgently needed now. Most of the Chinese Navy's active anti-submarine helicopters are 4 ton Z-9. Although the large-capacity Ka-27 has a high load, its anti-submarine equipment is already very backward. Moreover, the number of Ka-27 anti-submarine helicopters is small, and it is difficult to meet demand, and it cannot be the main force in charge.

Under such circumstances, the Chinese navy's long-term lack of anti-submarine aviation capabilities is naturally self-evident. According to the current situation, a single ship of the 055 destroyer can carry two Z-20 helicopters, and the 075 amphibious assault ship can carry 8 and mix and carry other types of helicopters for combat.

The light gray-painted chopper flying in a coastal region was seen in a photo released by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) South China Sea Fleet in a statement introducing the fleet's recent exercises on 06 January 2021. Beside the color difference from the original Z-20's dark green camouflage, the variation has a round, down-facing radar dome under its nose, and its rear landing gear is not equipped under the end of the tail but at the end of the cabin, the photo shows. Military observers said this Z-20 is a vessel-based, anti-submarine warfare variation. While netizens had taken photos of the variation, this is the first time for it to be featured in an official statement, they said.

Z-20 mine clearance variant

Of course, the anti-submarine version of the Z-20 is just an appetizer, the mine clearance version and the multi-purpose version of the Z-20 are also worth looking forward to. Taking the mine-clearing version of the Zhi-20 as an example, carrying a large number of detection and mine-clearing equipment can quickly open a safe passage in the sea area, so that the fleet is protected from attacks from smart mines.

Sea mines are explosive charges used in water against vessels and submarines. Sea mines are regularly utilized for blocking an area of sea. To protect seagoing vessels or convoys of seagoing vessels from the dangers of mines, mine-free routes are created in order to steer the vessels through a mine-free route. When hunting for mines, individual mines are located and later deactivated or detonated deliberately.

In wartime, underwater mines are commonly encountered at invasion beaches and harbor entrances or in shipping lanes. The mines are placed at relatively shallow depths below the water in these locations to destroy ships or at least impede progress by requiring extensive operations to detect and remove the mines. The mines are designed to detect the presence of a ship and to detonate as the ship passes or contacts the mine.

In order to prepare some military operations, it may be necessary to clear marine areas that have previously been mined. To clear these areas, a first dredging is generally carried out followed by additional clearing to remove any mines that may remain after the first dredging. To carry out the additional clearing, it is necessary first of all to detect the mines that may be present, to identify their positions, to identify them, then to destroy them or at least to neutralize them.

To recognize the presence of mines and locate their positions can be used robots such as remote-controlled robots cable or automated underwater vehicles equipped with detection means, in particular acoustic detection, and means for determining precisely the positions of the robots, these means being in communication with an accompanying ship.

A minesweeping system that creates influence signatures generally must provide a large enough influence field to be effective while still minimizing the size and weight of the equipment to make the system practical from the standpoint of the platform which controls and/or tows the system. This platform may be a ship, a helicopter, a remote controlled vehicle operating above or below the water surface, or a slow moving aircraft. Minesweeping systems generally have therefore involved a trade-off of performance vis-a-vis size and weight.

Z-20 multi-purpose variant

As for the multi-purpose version of the Zhi 20, it is based on the basic frame, which strengthens the ability to resist sea fog and salt, and the hanger has been modified to fit machine gun pods, rockets, mines, anti-ship missiles and other weapons. This version of the Zhi 20 is generally used as a landing ship's delivery and fire support platform. In particular, support for special forces can play a vital role.

However, as of now, the test progress of Zhi 20 has still not reached the ideal state of netizens. Today, the number of 055 destroyers has exceeded 10, and more than 6 052D destroyers have been exposed. According to future demand for the Zhi20, in the next three years, the production quantity of each model of the Zhi20 must reach 123 or more, as now there are eight 071 landing vessels.

China's latest vessel-borne helicopter will take the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy's combat capability to a new level, Chinese military experts said on 03 July 2019 after a full-sized model of the navy variant of the Z-20 utility helicopter was allegedly spotted testing on a warship for the first time. Citing a photo that surfaced on Chinese social media, Weapon magazine reported, via its social media account, that the Z-20 navy variant was on board a Chinese destroyer and its characteristic appearance made it clearly identifiable.

Generally the same helicopter as the army version, the vessel-based navy version can additionally minimize its size in the hangar through design features like foldable rotor blades, judging from the photo. It might also feature extra anti-corrosion capabilities and stronger landing gear, said Weapon magazine affiliated with the state-owned China North Industries Group Corporation, a major manufacturer of Chinese military equipment and weapons.

Having a full-sized model on board for testing means the PLA is studying the practical adaptability of the Z-20 on ships, testing for things such as how the helicopter would enter and exit the hanger and how much space it would actually take up, Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday. Compared to other in-service shipboard helicopters, the Z-20 has a good takeoff weight (while remaining not oversized on ships) and can better adapt to situations at seas, Li said.

Often compared to the US' UH-60 Black Hawk, hence nickname "Copyhawk", the Z-20 is a 10 ton-class medium-lift utility helicopter that can adapt to different terrain and weather. It would have the capabilities to fly on destroyers, amphibious landing docks, amphibious assault ships and aircraft carriers, undertaking a wide range of tasks including anti-submarine warfare, reconnaissance missions, transportation as well as search and rescue on the high seas, Li said, noting that the helicopter will play an important role in the multidimensional and digitalized battlefield. The Z-20 will help the Navy reach a higher level of effectiveness, Li noted.

Z-20 assault variant

The assault version was also caught on camera by Chinese military observers. Citing a photo on social media, Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a defense magazine based in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, said in a report on 05 January 2021 that the armed Z-20 has a machine gun under its nose and additional short wings under cabin doors. The short wings are used to mount eight anti-tank missiles, four on each side, in the photo, but they should also be able to mount other weapons like rocket launchers, machine guns and air-to-air missiles, the magazine report said.

The primary attributes of the attack helicopter include its tactical agility (e.g., speed, horizon masking, and engagement geometry), assortment of weaponry, and its ability to engage multiple targets. Its primary limitations are (1) a relatively limited sortie time (e.g., about 2 hours) and (2) that it is not particularly stealthy; that is, it has substantial radar, infrared, visual and audible signatures.

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Page last modified: 01-08-2021 14:07:36 ZULU