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Unmanned Helicopter System (UHS) [ 2024 ]

The AVIC AR-500C is an advanced unmanned helicopter system capable of accomplishing a variety of over-land roles including reconnaissance.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/11/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

Chinese aero-industry has full-embraced the concept of indigenous Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) design and development. This goes beyond the typical short- and mediun-altitude fixed-wing performers and now includes unmanned rotorcraft such as the AR-500C by AViation Industry Corporation (AVIC) of China. The helicopter completed its maiden 20-minute-long flight in May of 2020 and continues development as of this writing.

The AR-500C is built atop the proven framework of the earlier AR-500B model and, once operational, will be tasked with high-altitude reconnaissance work, suitable for operating in the "hot-and-high" rugged mountainous areas of China. Development work began in 2019 with the first flyable example completed in March of 2020. Ground-testing commenced soon after leading up to the first-flight in May.

As an unmanned rotorcraft, the AR-500C takes on a conventional design shape with the main rotor mast set above the fuselage and the tail rotor unit (facing port side) installed at the extreme end of the tail stem as an anti-torque solution. The tail unit also incorporates vertical fins and a curved skid rod. The fuselage of the helicopter houses all pertinent mission and operational systems with a traversing optics set at the "chin" position - providing unfettered, real-time views of the action ahead and surrounding the helicopter. For ground-running, the vehicle is equipped with a simple four-point landing skin solution.

As built, the aircraft can reach a maximum speed of 170 kmh and ranges up to 6,700 meters and out some five hours of flight time. Its MTOW is rated up to 500 kg consisting of various non-attack / mission support loads. The aircraft can operate through ground operator input or autonomously as needed and can furthermore be linked to manned aircraft for a complete aerial network solution.

Beyond its intended general reconnaissance role, developers of the AR-500C envision a slew of over-land / over-battlefield roles for their helicopter design including NBC (Nuclear-Biological-Chemical) data-collection, humanitarian aid, Search and Rescue (SAR), maritime patrol, and Electronic Warfare (EW).©MilitaryFactory.com
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May 2020 - A first-flight involving the AR-500C helicopter was recorded on May 20th, 2020 covering some 20 minutes in the air.

August 2022 - AVIC has announced a successful first-flight of its AR-500CJ maritime variant of the AR-500 UHS.


Service Year

China national flag graphic

Program in Progress.

AViation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) - China
(View other Aviaton-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of China China
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.

21.3 ft
(6.50 m)
24.6 ft
(7.50 m)
29.5 ft
(9.00 m)
Empty Wgt
882 lb
(400 kg)
1,102 lb
(500 kg)
Wgt Diff
+220 lb
(+100 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base AVIC AR-500C production variant)
Installed: 1 x Engine driving two-bladed main rotor unit and two-bladed tail rotor unit (facing port side).
Max Speed
106 mph
(170 kph | 92 kts)
21,982 ft
(6,700 m | 4 mi)
528 mi
(850 km | 1,574 nm)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base AVIC AR-500C production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)

Supported Types

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
AR-500C - Base Series Designation; evolved form of the earlier AR-500B model.
AR-500CJ - Navalized, shipborne variant for over-water operations; first-flight recorded August 2022.

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Images Gallery

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Image of the AVIC AR-500C
Image from the Chinese Ministry of Defense.

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