Z-20 choppers ‘bring agility, versatility’ to Henan flood relief
Published: Jul 23, 2021 10:18 PM
A Z-20 utility helicopter is on display prior to the 5th China Helicopter Exposition in Tianjin on October 9, 2019. Photo: Xu Luming/GT

A Z-20 utility helicopter is on display prior to the 5th China Helicopter Exposition in Tianjin on October 9, 2019. Photo: Xu Luming/GT

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Friday deployed China's latest Z-20 helicopters in flood relief missions in Central China's Henan Province by conducting aerial surveys and supply deliveries.

As China's most advanced medium-sized utility helicopter with high agility and versatility, the Z-20 is a perfect choice for disaster relief, analysts said.

On the orders of the PLA Central Theater Command, three Z-20 helicopters attached to an aerial assault brigade affiliated with the PLA 83rd Group Army left at 5 pm on Friday for multiple locations in Xinxiang, north to Henan's capital Zhengzhou for aerial survey missions and delivered supplies and equipment as unprecedented rainfall hit the region, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Friday.

Aerial videos taken from the Z-20s show that the flood situation remained severe as of Friday, and the Z-20s have already managed to get some supplies to their destinations, CCTV said.

This is the first time the general public was informed that the Z-20 was dispatched in a disaster relief operation since it made its public debut at the National Day military parade on October 1, 2019 in Beijing, observers said.

Helicopters like the Z-20 can play important roles in disaster relief. People can get more timely and effective on-site information through aerial surveys with the Z-20, and deliver supplies like water, food, medicine and rescue equipment, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Friday.

The CCTV report footage shows that a Z-20 landed in an agricultural field when it was unloading some goods. Another report by China National Radio shows a Z-20 dropping goods directly from the air.

If, for example, some flood victims are left isolated in dangerous areas, the Z-20 can also land or hover at low altitude to airlift them, Wei said.

Compared to helicopters like the lightweight Z-9 which is fast but cannot carry much, or the large Z-8 which can transport more but not as agile, the medium-sized utility Z-20 is more versatile and is up for more types of tasks, another Chinese military expert who asked to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Friday.

China operates different types of helicopters, and other types could join the Z-20 in the flood relief when necessary, the expert said.

With the deployment of the Z-20, PLA again sent some of its most advanced pieces of equipment in safeguarding people, after it used the Y-20 large transport aircraft in fighting the COVID-19 in early 2020, observers said.

During the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, China deployed Black Hawk helicopters imported from the US for disaster relief missions. But today, China can rely on its domestically developed equivalent, the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the maker of the Z-20, said in a Sina Weibo social media post on Friday.

China has also been dispatching the Wing Loong, more widely known as an armed reconnaissance drone for military purposes, to Henan to provide communications relay to residents there and conduct geological hazard surveys and provided imagery data to help the analysis of the disaster situation since Wednesday.