China’s stealth chopper could be adaptation of Z-20; experts slam ‘US copycat’ claims

China appears to be developing a stealth helicopter that analysts said on Monday is difficult to detect on radar, infrared sensors and human sight and hearing, judging from a model of the chopper recently revealed in a television report, with some speculating that it could be a stealthy variant of the Z-20 medium-lift utility chopper.

Some foreign media claimed the design was made possible because China copied US technologies, but this is a groundless accusation, Chinese experts said.

The model of the helicopter was on display at a facility of state-owned AVIC China Helicopter Research and Development Institute in Jingdezhen, East China’s Jiangxi Province, when Liu Qi, Party chief of Jiangxi, inspected the institute on May 19, Jiangxi Television reported.

The report did not elaborate on the helicopter model.

Military observers noted that the model likely represents a new type of helicopter that has stealth features in its airframe, rotor and exhaust designs. It could be a stealthy adaptation of the Z-20 helicopter, US media outlet thedrive.com reported on Sunday.

Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times on Monday that he agrees with these guesses, and the model could be a forward research project for China’s future stealth helicopter.

The model displayed many stealth characteristics, including a radar cross section-reducing aerodynamic design that could make it difficult to detect on radar systems, designs in its rotors that aim to reduce noise and make the enemies only hear it at close range when flying at low-altitude, upward-facing exhausts spread out on the back of the tail boom, and low-observable paint, Fu said.

Stealth helicopters are more difficult to spot, have higher chances of survival, and can better conduct assault and penetration missions, Fu said.

The report by thedrive.com also claimed that China got related technologies from espionage and data was from a US stealth Black Hawk helicopter which took part in the Bin Laden raid and was downed in Pakistan, but Fu said this accusation is groundless speculation.

The US has kept its stealth helicopter in secret and only tiny information was available, Fu said, noting that the Chinese aviation industry has already entered an innovation phase in advanced aircraft development, and can independently develop such aircraft.

Comparing the Chinese model to the rumored US stealth helicopter, many designs are different, just like China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet being very different from the US’ F-22, Fu said.

Foreign media also noted that a model of an unknown type of rotorcraft was also shown in the Jiangxi Television report, which seems to have vertical takeoff and landing capability. It has two sets of wings capable of pivoting upward and a total of six rotors on each set of wing.

This could be another conceptual forward research, which is very normal in aviation development, analysts said.

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