Z-XX 10-ton Helicopter - Origins
At the beginning of the establishment of the Chinese Army Air Force, it was mainly transport helicopters. Later, it introduced a small number of "small antelope" armed helicopters. Later, the Z-9 series was also equipped with troops. Workhorse. Although the service of the Z-10 and Z-19 armed helicopters has greatly reversed the lack of reconnaissance and attack helicopters of China's Army Aviation equipment, China has always lacked a 10-ton general-purpose tactical helicopter to carry out assault transportation, air transportation and logistics support tasks. China first introduced 24 US " Black Hawk " helicopters in the 1980s . These helicopters allowed China to fully appreciate the leadership of American aviation technology. In terms of flight performance, material technology, and reliability, the Black Hawk helicopter greatly surpassed China's local level at that time.
In the 1980s, the Black Hawk was China's only helicopter that could be used at high altitudes on the Tibetan Plateau . In Medog County, which has been closed for a long time, the "Black Hawk" has played an extremely important role in air operations. Even the Russian-made Mi-17 series helicopters, which were introduced many times after 1990, far outperformed the "Black Hawk" in many aspects. This situation was not resolved until China introduced the Mi-17B5, which boosts engine power. At this time, under the harsh environment of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, these "black eagles" have been overloaded for 20 years, but most of them continue to play an important role, including as many as 18 in the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake relief.
Since the United States began to implement an arms embargo against China in the late 1980s, after exporting only 24 "Black Hawks" to China, the United States has never sold "Black Hawk" helicopters to China ever since. In the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, the problem of the small number of helicopter equipment in China was prominent. Since then, China has increased its investment in the field of helicopters and its supporting engines.
It is said that in the early days of the introduction of the "Black Hawk", China had considered copying this model. Although the models imported by China were only for export, the technology was not available to China at that time. For example, the "Black Hawk" at that time used large-sized titanium alloy parts, and China did not have such a manufacturing process at all in the 1990s.
Although "Black Hawk" belongs to the 1970s, China could not come up with similar products even in the early 21st century. It can be seen that, like most aeronautical aircraft models, China's imitation of the "Black Hawk" is a very arduous process that requires the accumulation of countless links in materials, processes, processing, research and development. And some research and development and process experience, there is no 10 or 20 years of running-in, there is no sufficient experienced team, even with materials and machines, there is no way to talk about the successful development of a model. Therefore, there is no complete industrial system and sufficient accumulation of process and technical experience, let alone the American models of the 1970s, even the models of the 1950s could not be produced. The arduous course of China's helicopter development is actually a painful process that must be experienced by a less advanced country in aviation.
China is developing its own new type of helicopter, a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed on 26 December 2013. Geng Yansheng said at a monthly press briefing that development of helicopters meets the needs of economic and social development, and military construction as well as disaster relief and humanitarian rescue. Geng made the remarks responding to a reporter's question on media reports that said a Chinese-made Zhi-20 (Z-20) helicopter completed a trial flight a few days earlier in northeastern China.
There is a fairly great distance from 7 tons to 13 tons maximum takeoff weight, and the Chinese market needed such an aircraft. Avicopter was studying the feasibility of a 10-ton helicopter project. A model showing a provisional configuration was displayed at the November 2006 Airshow China in Zhuhai. Avicopter had not decided whether to pursue cooperative development in building the 10-ton helo. It may not need much outside help, because it was already moving quickly ahead as an independent developer of complete civil helicopters. The 10-ton aircraft would compete against the Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma. As a military aircraft, it would be comparable with the Sikorsky H-60 and NH Industries' NH90. This was superseded by joint venture program with Eurocopter for EC175/Z-15.
Fang Bing, a military expert from PLA National Defense University, said China has long been troubled by the lack of its own midsize helicopter, and all of the helicopters previously developed by China are either too heavy or too light to serve as tactical utility helicopters.
The backbone of the PLA ground force's air transport team is believed to be Russian-made Mil Mi-17s, purchased from Russia in the 1990s and a variation of the Mil Mi-8, which was imported by China in the 1970s. China also bought 24 Sikorsky S-70 series medium-lift helicopters from the United States in the 1980s and assigned them to transportation tasks in high-altitude, mountainous regions of the Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions.
China is making giant strides toward becoming a strong helicopter power, military experts said 03 January 2014. The comments came in the wake of media reports that the nation's first Chinese-made medium-lift utility helicopter has made its maiden flight.
"The Z-20 is supposed to fill a long-time void in the helicopter fleet of the People's Liberation Army. Hopefully, it will fulfill the requirements of the PLA's ground force and navy," Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief at Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said. "Though we now have the advanced WZ-10 and WZ-19 attack helicopters in the army, the absence of a suitable, Chinese-made utility helicopter hampers the army's ability to transport strike forces and carry out support missions." The situation will change if the Z-20 enters into service soon, he said.
As of 2014, the Z-20 designation had not been officially confirmed, but it was widely used by military enthusiasts and observers. Now the successful first flight of China Zhi-20 is not only as simple as a "replica" of an old American helicopter model, but also a symbol that China has a full set of advanced helicopter R & D and production systems. At the same time, the Z-20, while absorbing the "Black Hawk" design concept, has also added Chinese characteristics to the technology, and the details are very different. All this has condensed the sweat of China's aviation industry from years of hard work.
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