China is promoting an unmanned combat helicopter in the international market.

Aviation Industry Corp of China, a State-owned aircraft giant, has put its AV500W unmanned autonomous helicopter on display at the fourth China Helicopter Expo that opened last Thursday in Tianjin.

The 7.2-metre-long aircraft, developed and produced at the AVIC Helicopter Research and Development Institute in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, has a maximum takeoff weight of 450 kilograms, a maximum speed of 170 kilometres per hour and a flight ceiling of 4,000 meters, according to the institute.

The helicopter is reportedly capable of carrying 120 kg of weapons and equipment. Its reconnaissance version can remain aloft for eight hours while the reconnaissance/combat model is able to fly four hours.

All of the remotely piloted air systems China has offered to the international market so far have been fixed-wing models, making the AV500W the first Chinese unmanned military helicopter available in that market.

According to a press release:

“An armed AV500W typically carries four air-to-ground missiles, which use radar homing technology for guidance. Each missile weighs 8 kg and can hit a target 5 km away, the institute said. It also can carry bombs or a machine-gun pod.

The helicopter features good mobility, penetration capability and a high level of automation and has a stealth design. A typical mission would be a precision attack on light-duty armoured vehicles and personnel, the institute said.”

Jiang Taiyu, one of the chief designers of AV500W, said the aircraft fired weapons during its maiden flight test in August.

“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,” he said.

The designer added that all of the helicopter’s tests will be finished before the end of this year and it will be ready for mass-production in 2018.

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