China is already working on designs for a new military helicopter at an accelerated pace, claims political advisor Wu Ximing, who also worked as a designer on the Z-10 attack helicopter.
“A new product is already on its way, and I hope it can speed up. We will make constant efforts to speed it up,” Wu told China Central Television (CCTV), as reported by the Global Times.
Wu did not reveal what kind of helicopter the new design is going to be. However, the report highlighted the designer’s role in pushing military utility helicopters into civilian service, implying that the project will have a dual role.
In 2019 China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) introduced the Z-20, a new military utility helicopter based on the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and intended to replace a wide array of the country’s aging medium helicopters, most of which were based on the Soviet Mil Mi-8.
In 2022 Chinese press hinted that a completely new design with stealth features was in the works and that its prototype has already completed the maiden flight.
Details about the design remained scarce, save for the fact that it is viewed as a response to the United States’ Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program which, in December 2022, resulted in the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor being chosen as a replacement for the UH-60.
According to the Global Times, Wu served as the chief designer for the Z-10, the main attack helicopter of the PLA, which was introduced in 2012. He is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a consultative body to the country’s Communist Party. There, Wu curates the procurement of helicopters for China’s civilian market, reportedly proposing the acquisition of aircraft for utility aviation.