After years of speculation, China’s most modern anti-submarine helicopter appears to have entered service, as seen in footage broadcast by state broadcaster CCTV to commemorate the navy’s anniversary.
A video of a Z-20 helicopter taking off from the deck of a Type 055 destroyer was released recently, a day before the 73rd anniversary of the Chinese Navy.
JThe appearance of the anti-submarine variant of the Z-20 would improve the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability of the PLA Navy by increasing the combat radius and carrying more weapons, adds The report.
Yue Gang, a former PLA colonel, told SCMP that the Z-20 naval variant will replace the Russian-built Harbin Z-9C and Ka-28 helicopters that are currently deployed for anti-submarine missions.
Yue noted that the anti-submarine variant of the Z-9C, another military utility helicopter, had a lower capacity load and shorter flight endurance, while Russian helicopters had to be retired.
“Although the K-28 can meet the requirements of anti-submarine warfare [warfare] and transportation, imports are limited and should be retired due to many years of service. In addition, its electronic equipment is obsolete, which will not meet the needs of current warships. Yue said.
The Z-20 helicopter, according to Yue, will increase the battle radius because it can stay in the air longer and carry more torpedoes and bombs than the Z-9C. It could also be used as an airborne radar to guide anti-ship missiles against hostile warships.
“As the replacement of the other two types of helicopters, it can match the combat functions of our new warships, especially in terms of electronic functions, so that the warships can exert their maximum power,” Yue said.
Meanwhile, it seems that Beijing is making more efforts to expand the capabilities of this helicopter. Like Previously reported by EurAsian Times, China is said to be working on a stealth version of the Z-20 tactical helicopter, which would be a clone of the American UH-60 Black Hawk. The lead designer, on the other hand, did not confirm the information.
According to the expert, although the variants may differ in some aspects, they will share many essential parts and systems, which will make manufacturing and maintenance much easier than building new helicopters for various tasks.
China increases ASW capabilities
Beijing’s ASW (anti-submarine warfare) capability is seen as a major flaw in its armour.
In response to the growth of the People’s Liberation Army Navy over the years, China has now begun working to strengthen its ASW capabilities, primarily with the development of the Z-20 anti-submarine variant and the Shaanxi Y-8Q – an ASW variant of the ubiquitous Y-8 tactical transport.
As mentioned earlier, the video shows a Z-20 helicopter taking off from the deck of a Type 055 destroyer. This destroyer also plays a vital role in the PLA Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
Beijing says the large Type 055 destroyer excels in anti-submarine operations, in addition to strong air defense, anti-ship and land attack capabilities. The battleship is equipped with sonar equipment capable of detecting hostile submarines, as well as anti-submarine missiles and rocket-propelled torpedoes capable of successfully attacking targets.
The Type 055 can also direct other warships and aircraft to perform multi-dimensional combined fire attacks on submarines, thanks to its superior command, control and communication capabilities.
As the United States and its allies have increased their presence in the Indo-Pacific region, the likelihood of conflict between the two sides has increased dramatically.
The crash of the USS Connecticut, a Seawolf-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, in the South China Sea in October 2021 exposed the extremely active U.S. submarine activity in China’s vicinity.
China has also raised the issue, saying the US Navy’s regular submarine activity in the Western Pacific, as well as loitering in waters near China, is trying to acquire intelligence on the PLA and repeat strikes on PLA ships.