China’s Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation is likely to start production of Z-20 medium lift helicopter in 2018.
Z-20 was designed based on the stealth version of US Black Hawk that was abandoned by US Navy SEALs in Pakistan where it crashed during an operation to kill Osama Bin Laden on 1, May 2011, the Global Times quoted an unnamed source as saying.
China desperately needs such an aircraft to conduct search and rescue operations, Various helicopters such as Z-18, Mi-17 and Z-9 were used during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Chinese military analyst Li Xiaojian was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Of the helicopters that were used, Z-18 and Mi-17 are heavy lift helicopters and are designed to carry more than 13 tons, but are difficult to land on dangerous terrain. Z-9 is capable of carrying four tons and is too light for a rescue mission.
China can no longer buy US military hardware due to sanctions imposed after the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989. China has earlier bought 24 Black Hawks from US in 1984 but will require more of these. Li said that the Z-20 helicopter would need at least five years. The first flight was carried out in 2013.