In 1984, the People's Republic of China procured several examples of the civilian-minded Sikorsky S-70C-2 model. From this, it is widely believed, that Harbin originated its Z-20 medium-lift transport helicopter currently in development for the People's Liberation Army which, in turn, makes the Z-20 the unlicensed Chinese version of the American Sikorsky UH-60 "Black Hawk" transport helicopter. First flight was recorded on December 23rd, 2013 and the project remains in the prototype stages as of February 2014.
For the PLA, the Z-20 will fulfill the same tactical roles as does the UH-60 for the US Army and others worldwide. It is a transport at heart, capable of hauling some thousands of pounds of cargos over distance. In addition to the perceived cargo transport role, the Z-20 will, of course, be in charge of hauling PLA warfighters to and from warzones. The overall configuration and general form is very similar to the American Black Hawk with a few minor differences. One key difference is in the design's reliance on a five-bladed main rotor assembly as opposed to the four-bladed arrangement seen on the UH-60 family. Other than that, the Z-20 maintains a forward set two-seat cockpit with redundant controls, a mid-set passenger cabin and a top mounted dual-engine configuration driving the main rotor and a tail rotor system. The undercarriage remains wheeled and two sliding doors provide the necessary access to the passenger area. As with American UH-60s, the Z-20 is expected to be armed with general purpose machine guns for point defense of embarking/disembarking troops.
Due to the project's early-stage presence, it remains to be seen the capabilities and impact that the line will have in the inventory of the PLA. Of course, it will undoubtedly be selected to replace outgoing, Soviet-era designs in time. The Chinese will also utilize the Z-20 as an over-water transport and field it from its new (and only) aircraft carrier - the Liaoning (commissioned in 2012).
It is worth noting the reports of Pakistani officials granting the Chinese time with the remains of the UH-60 "Stealth Hawk" which was destroyed during the assault on Osama Bin Laden's compound. Information garnered from the remaining components may have very well played a role in the Z-20's development though this will only become known over time - particularly once the Z-20 enters formal service with the PLA.
October 2019 - The Z-20 transport helicopter was featured in the October 1st, 2019 National Day parade in China.
November 2020 - Image of a Z-20 helicopter have emerged from China showing a navalized variant possibly equipped for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) role.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Special-Mission: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy underwater elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and weapons.
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy surface elements through visual acquisition, radar support, and onboard weaponry.
✓Special-Mission: MEDical EVACuation (MEDEVAC)
Extraction of wounded combat or civilian elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and available internal volume or external carrying capability.
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
49.2 ft (15.00 m)
52.5 ft (16.00 m)
11.5 ft (3.50 m)
11,023 lb (5,000 kg)
22,046 lb (10,000 kg)
+11,023 lb (+5,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Harbin Z-20 production variant)
2 x Turboshaft engines driving a five-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor.
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