China has successfully developed and tested an advanced air-to-ground missile for helicopters, according to state media. The new weapon was put through its paces at a desert location in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in late June, when it was fired from a helicopter and hit its intended target, China Aviation News reported. The missile, whose name and specifications were not revealed, is a stand-off weapon, meaning it can be launched from a distance sufficient to allow attacking personnel to evade defensive fire. With its multiple guided systems, long range and capability to evade jamming, the missile is the first of its kind for China’s military , the report said. It was developed by the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute, a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, and although the project was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now back on schedule, the report said. Once fully functional, the new missile could replace the AKD-9 and AKD-10 anti-tank missiles and YJ-9 anti-ship missiles already in service, it said. Unlike its predecessors, the new missile is not limited to use with just one type of helicopter, making it similar to the US AGM-114 “Hellfire” series. Taiwanese military helicopter crashes, killing two pilots Song Zhongping, a military analyst in Hong Kong, said that having a single missile capable of attacking fixed ground targets, moving armoured vehicles and even ships, would make it much easier and faster to prepare and maintain the helicopters, rather than having to consider multiple weapon options. “An all-purpose munition could speed up the response and also largely improve its overall combat capability,” he said. China’s military already has the home-grown TY-90 air-to-air missile for use in helicopter dogfights. A combination of the new weapon and the TY-90 – which was the first of its kind in the world – plus rocket bombs would boost the attack power of the PLA Ground Force’s aviation units, Song said. The force has several attack helicopters, including the home-grown Z-10 and Z-20, and the Z-19 which was modified from the Z-9, which in turn was based on the French “Dolphin”.