September 17, 2017 – The Chinese state-owned aircraft company, Aviation Industry Corp of China announced the AV500W unmanned autonomous helicopter at the China Helicopter Expo in Tianjin on September 14th. While this isn’t the country’s first unmanned military drone, this is the first such drone in a helicopter airframe. With a length of just over twenty-three feet, the AV500W has a maximum takeoff weight of one thousand pounds, a maximum speed of one hundred and five miles per hour, and a maximum ceiling of thirteen thousand feet.
The AV500W is reportedly being offered in two configurations, an unarmed reconnaissance option which will boast an eight-hour flight time, and an armed variant which will be able to stay in the sky for a reduced time of four hours while carrying two hundred and sixty pounds of armament. The typical loadout for the armed variant will include four twenty pound air to ground radar guided missiles which boast a range of three miles. Other armament options will include bombs or a machine gun pod.
“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.” Said Mr. Jiang Taiyu, one of the chief designers of the AV500W. “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.”
Boasting a high level of automation, a stealthy design, and excellent mobility, the AV500W would be useful for precision attacks on light-duty armored vehicles and personnel according to AVIC Helicopter Research and Development Institute in Jingdezhen. While currently in the testing phase, developers anticipate being finished and ready for production sometime in 2018.
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