Blue Thunder? – China’s Z-10 attack helicopter

China-watching website sinodefence.com has posted perhaps the clearest picture yet of China’s Z-10 attack helicopter. The site says the Z-10 first flew in 2003 and is expected to enter service in 2008-9.

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Changhe Z-10 (sinodefence.com photos)

The Changhe-built Z-10 looks to be in the same class as the Agusta A129, Denel Rooivalk and Eurocopter Tiger. It has a five-blade main rotor and X-shaped tailrotor; targeting and pilotage sensors on the nose and gun underneath; sloped fuselage sides and stub wings carrying four Hellfire-class HJ-10 anti-tank missiles per side.

z10_07small.jpgThe Z-10 is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67Cs, says sinodefence.com, but the bulged nacelle looks a little different on this aircraft. There is no side-facing exhaust as seen in other pictures on the site (right). Whether that white “chute” is an exhaust suppressor – or even part of the helicopter – I can’t tell.

The Z-10 looks competent enough, but a lot depends on the quality of the sensors, weapons and communications networks – things you can’t tell by looking a picture.

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