The first clear images of a naval variant of China's Z-20 tactical helicopter have emerged on Chinese online forums. The platform features several significant differences from the variant used by the People's Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF), more details of which emerged during the 5th China Helicopter Exposition held in Tianjin from 10-13 October.
The naval variant, which is being commonly referred to as Z-20F and is to be operated by the PLA Navy (PLAN), features a revised undercarriage arrangement, with the tail wheel moved forward to a position behind the cabin, and shorter struts for the forward undercarriage. The more compact undercarriage footprint has been designed to cope with landing on the small area of a ship's flight deck.
The tail is hinged forward of the tail rotor to reduce the length of the aircraft when stowed in a ship's hangar. It can be assumed that the main rotor blades also fold, as does the horizontal stabilator fitted below the tail rotor, which has a distinctive notch in the centre that differs from the PLAGF's variant.
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