In a bid to enlarge its market share for military drones, China put on display its first unmanned combat helicopter, the AV500W, for foreign buyers today in the northeastern city of Tianjin.
The state owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) says the 7.2-meter-long aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 450 kilograms, whilst being able to maintain a maximum speed of 170 kilometer per hour and a flight ceiling of 4,000 meters.
Furthermore, the helicopter is capable of carrying 120 kilograms of weapons and equipment. The reconnaissance version can stay airborne for eight house whilst the combat model can fly for four hours.
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Given that terrorism and insurgencies across Asia and in the Middle East are a growing threat, the helicopter is being marketed to countries who want to ramp up their counter-terrorism
The Chief Designer, Mr Jiang Taiyu, commented on the weapons test made during its maiden flight: “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.”
“Several nations have told us that they are interested in this aircraft. This is because there are a very small number of unmanned helicopters in the world that can perform strikes, while demand for such types is not small.”
AVIC reported that full testing will be finished by November 2017 and the helicopter should be ready for mass production in 2018.
The military visitors from Saudi Arabia at the display showed great interest whilst AVIC was keen on telling the gathered press that first orders from the governments of Namibia and Malawi would be coming in soon.
China has been exporting military material to many African nations in recent years.