Airshow China 2012: Chinese attack helicopters shown for the first time
Two secretive Chinese attack helicopter designs were shown to the public for the first time with the opening of Airshow China in Zhuhai.
Both the Changhe Z-10 and Haifei Z-19 helicopters were photographed arriving at the show on 12 November, while the Z-10 took part in a flying display the following day.
Many of the details of both projects remain unclear, however. The Z-10 programme dates back to the 1990s and was originally developed under the guise of the commercial Chinese Medium Helicopter (CMH) to garner foreign support.
Pratt & Whitney Canada for one provided its PT6-67C turboshaft as the initial powerplant for the aircraft before being fined by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and State Department for violations of US defence trade restrictions.
The lack of a suitable engine has since forced the designers to go to a number of measures to reduce the weight of the Z-10.
According to reports in Chinese media, around 24 aircraft have been built and the first Z-10 squadron is understood to be operational. It remains unclear how many Z-10s will be acquired by the PLA.
Meanwhile, the Z-19 is a Z-9 derivative with a tandem cockpit configuration and a much-modified forward fuselage.
The existence of the aircraft emerged in 2010 with the release of pictures on the internet of a Z-19 in PLA markings. A further development of the Z-9W attack helicopter, it is likely the Z-19 will serve in the light attack/scout role, leaving the Z-10 for traditional combat helicopter missions.
At the time of writing it was unclear whether the Z-19 would also take part in the flying display at the airshow.
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