China Unveils New AV500W Unmanned Attack Helicopter

The State-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has unveiled the AV500W unmanned attack helicopter at the fourth China Helicopter Expo that opened in Tianjin on Thursday.

The 7.2-meter-long vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft is developed and manufactured by the AVIC Helicopter Research and Development Institute in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. According to the manufacturer, the unmanned air vehicle (UAV) has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 450 kilograms, a maximum speed of 170 kilometers per hour, and a flight ceiling of 4,000 meters.

AVIC AV500W unmanned helicopter

The helicopter is capable of carrying 120 kg of weapons and equipment including four radar homing air-to-ground missiles. Each missile weighs 8 kilograms and can reportedly hit a target 5 kilometers away. It also can carry bombs or a machine-gun pod.

The aircraft showcased in the expo was also equipped with an electro-optical sensor pod.

The reconnaissance version of the UAV can remain aloft for eight hours while the reconnaissance/combat model is able to fly four hours.

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 armored vehicles and personnel, the institute added.

According to Jiang Taiyu, one of the chief designers of AV500W, the aircraft made its maiden flight test in August and successfully fired off its weapons.

“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, counter-terrorism operations and low-intensity conflicts because it can carry out very-low-altitude penetration and keep hovering for a while,” he said.

He added that all of the helicopter’s remaining tests will be completed before the end of this year and it may be ready for mass production as soon as 2018.

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