For the first time the Z-20F’s sonobuoy launcher was seen. On all previously known images, the box launcher has usually been covered with a cover plate. It houses 25 rounds of sonobuoys and is installed on the port side of the fuselage.
(Image by DDJDD via @huitong‘s CMA-Blog)
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I think that is a very, very important characteristic, that has now been confirmed.
Z-20F basically is confirmed to have all of the requisite key subsystems and characteristics of a ASW helicopter now, not unexpected given the SH-60/MH-60R have them as well in similar parameters.
Surface search radar
External hardpoints for torpedos, sensor pods, and also anti-surface weapons if neede
Nice annotations, though I would modify a few things (in green, as below)
- Z-20F's wing pylons should be capable of carrying KD-9/10s as regular payloads as well. Anti-surface warfare against small boats actually would be a very suitable mission for Z-20F as well as Z-20J, though given Z-20F is equipped with a large ventral surface search radar as standard I suspect it would probably be slightly more capable in that role.
- I think the wing pylons on Z-20F are not capable of carrying torpedoes. Modern lightweight torpedoes weigh over 200kg, even over 250kg these days. On Seahawk family, the two air launched LWTs are mounted on those fuselage hardpoints in similar locations to Z-20Fs fuselage hardpoints (which we've previously seen carry a smaller payload -- those depth charges before).
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- I think the Z-20J's EO turret is actually a different model from the one on Z-20F. I've had a look at all of the imagery, the one on Z-20J is more cylindrical while Z-20F's is distinctively more spherical
Overall, I think the wing pylons on Z-20F and Z-20J would structurally be able to support the same kind of payloads, they look externally identical to me. Those payloads could include KD-9/10, smart depth charges, tanks, but also may include sensor pods, mine detection pods, etc in future.
But I think torpedoes might not be part of them... though I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
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