A Chinese company began producing gyrocopters for the PLA special forces in 2014. Their ties to the Chinese military were revealed as they marched in a parade commemorating the People’s Republic of China’s 70th anniversary in 2019.
The newly discovered video’s publishing date is unknown. The video depicts a two-seat gyrocopter armed with four anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), two mounted on each of the aircraft’s underbelly hardpoint extensions.
A small sensor turret behind the nose of the gyrocopter looks to be used to detect targets and direct missiles. The sensor can also do broad surveillance and reconnaissance.
The video shows a group of unarmed gyrocopters practicing and doing tricks. Experts think that adding ATGMs and a sensor turret to PLA gyrocopters makes them much better at using weapons.
At this point, it’s not clear how well these changes will work. Also, the sensor ball and tubes on ATGMs don’t look like a very high-tech equipment. But these changes show that the Chinese military wants to update its unconventional platforms.
An autogyro or gyrocopter is a form of single-rotor aircraft that generates lift through the free autorotation of an unpowered rotor. An engine-driven propeller provides independent forward propulsion.
Even though it looks like a helicopter rotor, the gyroplane rotor needs air to move across the rotor disc to make it turn. Air goes up through the rotor disc instead of down.
In August 2014, the Shaanxi Baojii Special Vehicles Manufacturing Company started making the “Hunting Eagle Strike Gyrocopter” or “Shaanxi Baojii Special Vehicles Lie Ying Falcon” for the PLA.
The “Hunting Eagle” comes in different layouts, some with one seat and some with more. The company says that its two-person gyrocopter can fly about 250 miles and carry up to 1,235 pounds of weight.
The latest CCTV footage shows unarmed gyrocopters that are believed to be identical to those used in the 2019 parade. They can take off in seconds and land at extreme angles, making them ideal for use in confined areas.
They are easy to move around and work well for different kinds of covert surveillance missions, border patrols, and search and rescue missions. Due to their small thermal and radar signatures, they are hard to find.
A rough translation of the video’s subtitles explains that the armed gyrocopters are intended to support ground soldiers and track and destroy tanks. In addition, measures have been taken to reduce aircraft noise.
The video also points out how easy it is to educate pilots to fly gyrocopters and how little logistical space they take up, which is advantageous for different operations.
Potential use against India?
It has been said that PLA gyrocopters have taken part in military exercises, most notably in Tibet in 2021. But it is still unclear how the PLA would use gyrocopters with ATGMs and sensor balls.
A Chinese military expert says that a version of this gyrocopter with three seats could be used for plateau operations in places like the Tibet Autonomous Region in southwest China.
“The Falcon is ideal for infiltrating hostile areas during stealth reconnaissance missions due to its agility, small size, and low noise level,” said the expert.
But no one knows how well these gyrocopters will work in a real war zone. Also, if the plane was stationed near the border between China and India, it could be attacked by air defenses, mobile units, and ground troops during high-level combat.
This equipment is easy to use and keep up with and can help the Chinese military in general. The plane will be a patrol and surveillance plane with rare light attack capabilities at a reasonable price.