BEIJING (Reuters) - China has begun developing a new generation of attack helicopter which will have stealth abilities and should start deliveries to the Chinese armed forces by about 2020, the official China Daily newspaper said on Friday.
The helicopter is being developed by Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), one of the country's leading arms manufacturers, the state-run English-language publication said.
Its stealth capabilities will "reshape the combat patterns" of the People's Liberation Army, company chairman Lin Zuoming was quoted as saying.
"It is a trend that the ground force will become increasingly dependent on helicopters because they have better strike capability and mobility than armored vehicles, and transport supplies to frontier troops," Lin said.
The company's chief helicopter designer, Wu Ximing, said the aircraft would have "supreme maneuverability in complicated environments, outstanding survivability and joint operation ability", the report added.
It provided no other details.
President Xi Jinping has pushed to toughen and modernize the country's 2.3 million-strong armed forces as China takes a more assertive stance in the region, particularly in the South China and East China seas.
That has included developing a series of high-tech weapons, including stealth jets, aircraft carriers and emerging technology aimed at shooting down satellites.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Joseph Radford