China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had a lot to showcase this year, including their very own swarm of tiny gyrocopters that reportedly has a robust anti-tank game.
A recent video was released by Chinese state-operated media CCTV showing the PLA’s testing of the gyrocopters in one of their airbases. The footage shows a two-person aircraft loaded with four anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) slated on the aircraft’s underside hardpoint extensions.
The aircraft also features a small sensor turret under its nose that could potentially be used to find targets and detect missiles from miles away. This sensor could also be used for general surveillance and other tasks.
Though gyrocopters are generally used for civilian aviation because of their low-cost production, so this is an impressive innovation for China if they are able to use these for military applications.
These Chinese “Hunting Eagle Strike Gyrocopters” are propelled by an engine-powered blade in the rear and are lifted to the air with the help of autorotation of the main blade. It also needs a runway just like other aircraft, but gyrocopters do not need a really long runway for taking off.
The “Hunting Eagle” has two configurations: single and two-seater. The manufacturer said these gyrocopters “has a range of around 250 miles” with a gross weight of 1,235 lbs.
These have been manufactured by the Shaanxi Baoji Special Vehicles since 2014. According to the company’s main website, they have been working with the Chinese military since its establishment in 1983.
In the video, the gyrocopters seemed to be quieter, helping them when it comes to stealth missions in the future. But, naturally, these aircraft do not have any defense or armor for direct confrontational battles.
Still, it’s too early to verify their extensive upgrade since the CCTV video only showed a TV version of the aircraft. Therefore, we cannot confirm, as of writing, whether these can be called a fifth-generation stealth fighters with regard to their detectability.
US Military’s Gyrocopters?
As for our military, gyrocopters are overlooked tiny aircraft that really lack straightforward firepower and adaptability. So, they’re not really as high-demand as the F-35s. However, there are manufacturers producing highly advanced, military-grade gyrocopters that could pave the way for official military use for these types of aircraft.
Yet-to-be-named gyrocopter developed by UAVEnture unveiled their “smart autogyro” with a speed range of 0-93mph. This implies the gyro uses a spinning blade rotor for lift, allowing it to attain faster speeds.
UAVenture had plans for two types of drones: a 44 lbs and a 220 lbs gyrocopter drone. The latter will supposedly “merge the best of gyrocopter and helicopter technology into a single system for a fully autonomous, vertical takeoff and landing capable rone in helicopter mode and an efficient forward flight in an autorotating gyrocopter mode.”
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The potential military use for these gyrocopter drones is many. They can offer a “novel solution to short takeoff and landing,” giving commanders options for quick scouting missions, reconnaissance, and resupply.
Aside from UAVenture, there’s also an Austrian company that has successfully built a military-grade gyrocopter called TrixEye. This can seat two individuals and can be produced for as little as $6,000. This “cheap-yet-durable aircraft” features several upgrades from traditional, consumer gyrocopters including a drop box under the cabin, which can be used to outfit a parachute for delivery and rescue gear and goods.
It can also be outfitted with a Kevlar composite to provide additional security. On top of that, it can reach a maximum altitude of 15,000 feet at 112mph.
For surveillance purposes, it also has two gyro-stabilized camera systems, night vision sensors, and GPS tracking.
According to Director of Trixy Aviation Rainer Farrag, this model is made with the US military in mind.
“This professional model is very different. It is designed with police and armed forces in mind. Double electrical system, double fuel system, armored cabin and special software for the double glass cockpit are only some of the differences.”
Because of its lower production cost, the 100 TrixyEyes were already sold to private clients and to other countries like Egypt. The Turkish police is also using this for their operations.
As for the US military, Trixi Aviation USA Inc. is reportedly “negotiating with officials in the US.”
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