China’s Black Hawk helicopter clone makes first flight

Dec 23 2013 - 17 Comments

On Dec. 23, at 14.11 Local Time, Chinese medium lift utility helicopter dubbed Z-20 made its first flight.

As the image (published on a Chinese Internet website and then made available by Alert5) shows, the chopper is clearly based on the U.S. Black Hawk type (China operates 24 Black Hawk procured in 1983 as S-70C-2).

Still, it features some peculiar things: the 5-blade rotor, a larger cabin and a different landing gear and tail.

Z-20 is believed to be a 10-ton chopper that will be used to replace Mi-17 and Mi-171 helos within People’s Liberation Army.

Image via Alert5



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  • Gyoz

    In the late 40s almost all the soviet designs were based American and German designs and this was a practical shortcut to start a very impressive aviation industry that later produced very original designs.

    Here I see a very similar thing.

    • Mr. Denali

      Don’t think so. Remember all the soviet warbirds from WW II? They had a lot of home grown designs already. They used some designs from German or American origin, but not the majority.

      In contrast the Chinese seem to copy everything and don’t have any original designs or concepts whatsoever. It is just disgusting!

      • big john ok

        I agree but seriously if something works and China doest give a crap about US patent and copyright laws so why waste the resources to design something completely original?

        • karl

          The Chinese gave the US a big credit. I wouldn’t pay it back, because it is not the first time

      • Ed

        Weren’t the Soviets a little late to the party regarding helicopter design?

        Anyway, it seems that the Chinese are at least trying these days, with the J-20.

  • Gyoz

    The J20 is quiet an original design so I do not think it applies to everything they do. It applies to the majority…

    • Mr. Denali

      Look at the MiG 1.44 demonstrator:

      Even the purpose seems to be the same: demonstrator for new technologies and development platform.

      • Pingvin Pingvinovich

        And look at the original J-9VII from 1970’s

        Everything is there: twin engine, twin tail, canard with LERX, maybe MiG-1.44 is a copy of the old J-9 concept?

        • Mr. Denali

          That is some old photo of an old wind tunnel model. The concept (J-9) was scraped for the J-8, it newer saw the light of day. So?

          • Lex

            Actually CAC continued investing on canard-delta design after the J-9 project was cancelled while SAC got the J-8 contract. By then CAC have collected huge volumes of data from the wind tunnel tests and later used them for J-10. The only problem was that the canards in J-9 are stationary due to the absence of a fly-by-wire system. Later Israel kicked in and sold them a full set of FBW source code they used on their Lavi fighter. That brought up another problem, they had to modify the source code to suit their design because Lavi was having a different shape of main wings and the distance from the main wings to the canards is also different and hence the control laws are absolutely different. Understandably, during the modification, they go some difficulties and luckily (again!) Frenches, who were doing their Rafael at almost the same time, offered the very needed help.

  • Tymon Zajączkowski

    But whats the point of copying outdated helicopter design? Blackhawk already doesn’t offer enough space for an infantry squad.

    • H-J

      The Z-20 does offer that space.

      It seems to have a modified and enlarged cabin, as well as five-bladed rotors for more lift.
      But most of all, the Blackhawk/Z-20 will fit inside China’s surface combattants as well as their Y-9 Transport Planes, while the Mi-171 also in PLA serive does not.

    • Lex

      Blackhawk is the only design of 10 tonne class which can be fitted into a Y-8 transporter (or C-130 likewise) and fly above the Tibet plateau. They got long term experience from their still actively flying S-70C fleet and they just love it.

  • Sunray

    Aircraft identification in a conflict is going to be pretty difficult for the guy on the ground.

  • Wonder how good the helicopters engines are? Time between overhauls and such.

  • FoilHatWearer

    We always hear about how their engineers are so smart. Bull. Just like the Russians, they don’t design anything, they’re just good at stealing it.

  • FoilHatWearer

    The Russians developed those engines 20 years behind the curve. AND, we give credit where credit is due. We don’t go steal it and then say, “Look at this great engineering we did,” like the Russians did with the B-29, Concorde, and Rockwell Space Shuttle, I could keep going.

    In the early years of the ICBM, the huge Russian rockets only had half the range of the American versions despite their stupendous size. They didn’t pioneer anything, they were always at least a decade or more behind. Proof their engineering is inferior: they never got to the moon.