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Harbin Z-20

Medium transport helicopter


The Harbin Z-20 utility helicopter is a Chinese copy of the Black Hawk

Country of origin China
Entered service 2017 (?)
Crew 2 men
Dimensions and weight
Length ~ 20 m
Main rotor diameter ~ 16 m
Height ~ 5.3 m
Weight (empty) ~ 5 t
Weight (maximum take off) ~ 10 t
Engines and performance
Engines 2 x ?
Engine power 2 x ?
Maximum speed ~ 360 km/h
Cruising speed ~ 290 km/h
Service ceiling ~ 4 km
Range ~ 460 km
Ferry range ?
Maximum payload ~ 1 t internally an ~ 4 t externally
Passengers 12 ~ 15 troops
Cannon provision for machine guns
Missiles ?
Other ?


   A new medium-lift utility helicopter with unconfirmed designation recently appeared in China. Most sources suggest that it is Harbin Z-20. It is a copy of the UH-60 Black Hawk. Sometimes this Chinese helicopter is nicknamed the "Copyhawk". This new-generation utility helicopter has been developed in China since the late 1990s by AVIC China Helicopter Research and Development Institute and both China's helicopter manufacturing plants - Harbin Aircraft Industry Group and Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation. However the project was delayed by the development of high priority Z-10 attack helicopter. Also there were setbacks due to technical problems, such as obtaining suitable engines. The project finally gained full speed in around 2010. A prototype of the Z-20 made its first flight in 2013. In 2016 this helicopter was still being tested. In 2017 new images of this helicopter surfaced, sporting the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) roundel. This might indicate that the Z-20 was already in service. In 2019 it became clear that this helicopter is produced in quantity. Once available in sufficient numbers the Z-20 could replace a fleet of Russian Mi-17 helicopters in service with the PLAAF.

   The Z-20 is a copy of the Sikorsky S-70 which is a basic military utility helicopter of the US Army where it is known as the UH-60 Black Hawk. The original helicopter is also in widespread use worldwide. It appeared that Sikorsky licensed production of this helicopter in China for non-military use. It seems that China is violating this agreement. Civilian Sikorsky S-70C-2 helicopters are used by the PLAAF since 1984. A total of 24 Sikorsky helicopters were obtained. Deliveries ceased in 1989 due to imposed sanctions against China. The Z-20 made its first flight almost 30 years since China acquired the original Sikorsky S-70 helicopters.

   The Z-20 helicopter accommodates about 12-15 fully-equipped troops. It has a payload capacity of around 5 000 kg. It can carry around 1 000 kg internally and 4 000 kg externally. It can transport various loads, such as vehicles and artillery pieces underslung externally.

   This utility helicopter can be armed with machine guns and possibly other weapons, such as anti-tank and air-to-air missiles, or pods with unguided rockets.

   There is a nose-mounted FLIR/TV turret.

   The Z-20 has some minor differences comparing with the Black Hawk. Notably it has a five-blade rotor, comparing with the Black Hawk's four-blade. It seems that the Z-20 uses rotor, engines and some other components of the Z-10 attack helicopter. It is speculated that this machine is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-76C turboshaft engines. Also it could be powered by a WZ-10 turboshafts, developing around 2 400 shp each. Some sources report that development of new transmission system has been assisted by Eurocopter.

   The basic utility helicopter can be modified to suit many military roles. Some sources report that marine version of this helicopter is under development.














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