Saturday, November 17, 2012

China unveils new Z-10 attack helicopter

(China) As well as unveiling its new UAV at this years Airshow China, the new Chinese Z-10 attack helicopter was brought out from under wraps. The new craft came about after the Americans, the Russians and the Europeans refused to sell China any attack helicopters during the late 1980s and early 1990s, so they went about building their own. Using experts from America, France, Italy, Israel, Russia, South Africa and the Ukraine, the Chinese built their very own tank killer.

While it resembles the Italian Agusta A-129 Mangusta (which they evaluated in 1987), it is twice the weight, which, funny enough, is around how much the next iteration of the A-129 weights and which is being bought by the Turkish military as the TAI/AgustaWestland T-129. I'm not saying the Chinese copied the design specs from the Italians (they have done a lot of their own work here), but you'll have to admit the Chinese do have a bad habit of copying other people's work.

Anyway, Z-10 was unveiled to the world the other day, and no doubt it will be for sale at well below the price of those second-hand kites the US and Russia sell to everybody else. So what will Pakistan (and the rest) get for their Western supplied aid money? Well, it's a classic two-seater in a tandem configuration. It is designed to carry 16 anti-tank HJ-10 missiles (Chinese equivalent of the Hellfire). But as the Chinese haven't manged to master the art of making jet engines yet, the Z-10 is only cleared to carry 8. But no doubt that will change in the future. It hosts a chin mounted chain gun, but as of yet, nobody knows if it is 23-mm or 30-mm. The pilots can be fitted with helmet mounted HUD up displays, but as of yet, it isn't part of the sales package. All in all, a nice piece of kit, and no doubt better iterations will follow. While I won't say its as good as the rest (including the Super Cobras in use by the US Marines), it's a pretty good first attempt. But then my day to day watch is made in Switzerland, so I think you know how I feel about quality goods made in China. Don't get me wrong, as Chinese goods are getting better by the day (including my iPad), but just not at the moment. Mind you, that won't bother countries such as Pakistan, Kenya and Iran from knocking on the Chinese sales door.