China has recently fielded its newest utility helicopter, which has a striking resemblance to the U.S. UH-60 Black Hawk leading it to be nicknamed by some as the "Copy Hawk." The Z-20 reportedly entered service with the People's Liberation Army Air Force in the first half of 2019 following a protracted development period. Based in part on S-70C-2 helicopters acquired in the 1980s, the program suffered from technical and political issues, as well as a decision to prioritize the development of the Z-10 attack helicopter.
Development got fully underway in 2010, with at least two prototypes completed by early 2015. The Z-20 (at left) reportedly entered low-rate production in April 2016. The helicopter has a two-person flight crew and can carry up to 12 troops. Up to four tons of cargo can be carried externally. Differences from the Black Hawk included a wider fuselage and a modified tail. The Z-20 has a five-blade main rotor and four-blade tail rotor. A naval variant, with folding rotor blades and reinforced landing gear, is apparently under development.
The U.S. Marine Corps has fielded a non-lethal grenade launching system that can deliver a variety of non-lethal submunitions for different missions. The Venom features several models, which can accept one, two or three cassettes of submunition launchers. The system can be mounted on a vehicle, tripod or in a static installation. Potential missions include hail and warn; smoke; crowd dispersal/area denial; and determination of intent. Blunt trauma kinetic rounds can be employed for specific missions.
The Venom Non-Lethal Tube-Launched Munition System (at right) can fire 38-mm, 40-mm and 66-mm projectiles with electronic initiation. A fire-control panel allows operators to fire rounds individually or automatically in a specified sequence. Submunitions include flash-bang grenades, smoke and tear gas rounds, pepper vapor and stingball grenades. The Venom can be reloaded in 15 seconds by replacing the cassettes.
The French navy has commissioned a class of multimission support vessels to perform sovereignty operations around France's overseas territories. The D'Entrecasteaux-class ships are designed for missions such as surveillance; exclusive economic zone protection; presence; force protection; logistics support; counter-piracy; and humanitarian assistance. A large aft deck provides space for cargo, vehicles or landing craft and can accommodate a light helicopter. Uncrewed vertical takeoff and landing aircraft can also operate from the ships.
The D'Entrecasteaux-class (at left) ships are stationed at French possessions in the Pacific, Indian Ocean and Caribbean. The vessels can carry up to 20 police personnel and two vehicles and can be armed with 12.7-mm or 7.62-mm machine guns. Two water cannons are fitted. The French defense procurement agency ordered three multimission ships in 2013, with a fourth order following in 2017. The first three entered service in 2016 and 2017 and the fourth in 2019.
Bahraini Coast Guard Turns To Ares For Patrol Boats
There have been a number of new additions this month, including the Bahraini Ares 58 fast patrol boats, Japanese Type 96 wheeled armored personnel carrier, U.S. Selectable Lightweight Attack Munition anti-tank mine and UC-35 transport aircraft.
There have been several artillery records made current, including the Singapore 120-mm Super Rapid Advanced Mortar System, Emirati Agrab mortar, Syrian T-34/122 howitzer and the Chinese 122-mm Type 89 self-propelled howitzer.
Polar Star Icebreaker Soldiers On In 5th Decade
Naval records have not been neglected. These include the U.S. Polar Star-class icebreaker and Ukraine's Grigoriy Kuropyatnikov-class patrol boats. The Chinese Han-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, Vietnamese Hanoi-class diesel sub and Pakistani Hashmat-class diesel boat records have also been updated.
Other updates include the LGM-30 Minuteman ICBM, Indian Kestrel amphibious assault vehicle, French VBCI armored vehicle, the South African LANDSEC family of radios and the German MANTIS air defense system.
The record for the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) terrorist group, which opposes the regime in Tehran and has garnered support from politicians in the West, has also been brought up to date.
Army Accelerates Toward New Scout Helo
The U.S. Army is working to modernize its vertical lift capabilities. A major component of this program is the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition, which aims to replace the now-retired OH-58D scout helicopter. Weapons Editor Brody Ladd reviews the program and competitors in "Army Sees Need For Speed."
The Army Futures Command was established in 2017 and has quickly made its presence felt as it tries to revamp how the service acquires new capabilities. Nations Editor Kevin Ivey looks at the command's successes and challenges in its first years in "Marching To A New Beat."
Despite a lack of orders from the government in Kyiv, Ukrainian defense industry has been stepping up its game with weapons upgrades and new systems. Reuben Johnson highlights the latest offerings shown off at the Arms and Security show in October in "On The Cutting Edge."
Finally, efforts to clean up left over explosives and bombs in Iraq and Syria have revealed some of the Islamic State's tactics and techniques. Andy Oppenheimer has the story in "The Islamic State's Explosive Legacy."