The Chinese military have inducted Z-20 helicopter People's Liberation Army (PLA) Tibet Military Command, often compared to America’s UH-60 Black Hawk owing to their capabilities.
Several Z-20s were spotted in the background of a video and photos released by the military in which Z-10 and Mi-17 helicopters were also present. Chinese media reported that the helicopters may have been inducted into the military in large numbers.
The choppers has been earlier commissioned by an Army aviation brigade under the 75th Group Army, a CCTV report said.
China used to rely on Black Hawk helicopters imported from the U.S. for plateau operations because China's own helicopters could not complete tasks there due to low oxygen levels at high altitudes and technical issues involving the helicopters' engines, Global Times reported citing an expert.
“It soon became impossible to import more US helicopters, and domestically developed ones like the Z-20 were urgently needed for missions like aerial transport, aerial assault and emergency response,” the expert added.
State-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) equipped the helicopter with domestically made engines powerful enough to operate in high elevation regions. Its main development goal was to have the Z-20 able to operate in plateau regions.
Beijing is reportedly planning new variants of the Z-20 to perform anti-submarine warfare, patrol and reconnaissance missions. It plans to develop the Z-20 into series and build 2,000-3,000 units. Aside of equipping its military and police, it will reportedly produce the rotorcraft for export.
Chinese Z-20 helicopter
The 10 ton-class medium-lift utility chopper, Z-20, made its debut at the National Day Parade in October 2019. It is a member of China's most advanced "20 series" aircraft, with the others being the J-20 stealth fighter jet, the Y-20 large transport plane and the H-20 strategic bomber.
The helicopter can rapidly deliver key equipment, goods and combat personnel, or retrieve the wounded from the frontline. It can also work with warships including amphibious landing ships and aircraft carriers.
The Z-20 is the first Chinese helicopter to use domestically developed anti-icing and de-icing technology for rotors, which makes China the fourth country in the world to possess such technology. It features domestic engines powerful enough for it to fly in low-oxygen plateaus.