Chinese state-owned aircraft giant, Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) has unveiled its new AV500W unmanned autonomous helicopter at the China Helicopter Expo in Tianjin.
The 7.2m long aircraft, developed and produced at the AVIC Helicopter Research and Development Institute in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, has a maximum takeoff weight of 450kg, a maximum speed of 170km per hour and a flight ceiling of 4,000m, according to the institute.
The helicopter is capable of carrying 120kg 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 military drones that China has offered to the international market have been fixed-wing models, making the AV500W the first Chinese unmanned military helicopter available in that market, observers said.
An armed AV500W typically carries four air-to-ground missiles, which use radar homing technology for guidance. Each missile weighs 8kg and can hit a target 5km 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.
Mr Jiang Taiyu, one of the chief designers of AV500W, said the aircraft fired weapons during its maiden flight test in August.