China’s armed forces modernization program has taken another step forward. China’s new AR500C unmanned helicopter prototype made its maiden flight in Poyang in East China’s Jiangxi Province on 20 May.
The helicopter is developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and the maiden flight took place at an AVIC base. During the 20 minute test flight, the UAV conducted several manoeuvres including hovering, horizontal, and vertical flights.
AVIC completed assembly of the first AR500C prototype in March and finished ground testing in early May.
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The UAV is visually similar in appearance to Austria’s Schiebel Camcopter S-100 and Sweden/Switzerland’s UMS Skeldar V-200 unmanned helicopters. As China’s first unmanned helicopter designed to fly in plateau areas, the AR500C can take off at an elevation of 5,000 metres and has a ceiling of 6,700 meters. It has a flight endurance of five hours, a maximum speed of 170 kilometres an hour, and a maximum take-off weight of 500 kilograms.
According to an AVIC statement, the AR500C’s main missions include reconnaissance and communication relay, but when equipped with additional devices, it can also run electronic disruption, target indication, fire strike, cargo delivery and nuclear radiation and chemical contamination reconnaissance, as well as assisting disaster relief efforts.
china's first high-prototype unmanned helicopter AR500C successfully flew for the first time at UAV base of the aviation industry helicopter.. pic.twitter.com/L9fzoLxw3R
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AVIC is also developing other types of unmanned helicopters including other AV500 variants such an armed reconnaissance variant. (LINK)
Chinese state media suggests the AR500C could be deployed at the China-India border, amid rising tensions between both countries. They note that the border between the two country runs at very high elevations, with several areas subject to border disputes.
Chinese media outlet CGTN has released a video of the test flight: