China’s first unmanned combat helicopter AV500W is evoking keen interest at the ongoing Airshow China 2018 in Zhuhai.
Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), the state-owned aircraft manufacturer, has put the reconnaissance-cum-combat helicopter on display as part of its effort to market its military drones to the international customers.
The 7.2-meter-long aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 450 kilograms, a maximum speed of 170 kilometres per hour and a flight ceiling of 4,000 meters. The aircraft was developed and produced at the AVIC Helicopter Research and Development Institute in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province.
In addition, the helicopter is capable of carrying 120 kilograms of weapons and equipment. Its reconnaissance version can remain aloft for eight hours while the reconnaissance/combat model is able to fly for four hours.
During its maiden flight test in August 2017, the aircraft fired weapons.
An armed AV500W typically carries four air-to-ground missiles, which use radar homing technology for guidance. Each missile weighs eight kilograms and can hit a target five kilometres away. It also can carry bombs or a machine-gun pod.
The helicopter is able to take off and land on almost any landform including plateaus and canyons. It can operate in cold and tropical environments. It will be useful in border patrols, counterterrorism operations and low-intensity conflicts because it can carry out very-low-altitude penetration and keep hovering for a while, according to its makers.
The company soon expects mass production of this helicopter.
Countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East have shown keen interest in the aircraft to help in counterterrorism efforts.