Saturday, August 20, 2022

Stunning Image Of China’s ‘Apache Helicopter’ (Z-10ME) Breaks Internet; Netizens Speculate A Possible Sale To Pakistan

For the first time, a clear image of China’s Z-10ME assault helicopter emerged on the internet, leaving netizens awestruck. The Z-10ME is the export variant of China’s latest attack helicopter, which is already in service with the People’s Liberation Army.

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Chinese military observer posted a photo of the Z-10ME, a modified export variant of the Z-10 attack helicopter, on Twitter. The new configuration was seen alongside the old one for a visual comparison. According to the expert, the image was taken from Chinese social media Weibo.

Not too long ago, the Z-10 helicopters participated in a live fire exercise conducted by the army aviation brigade attached to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Xinjiang Military Command in the Karakoram Mountains, as previously reported by EurAsian Times.

The Z-10 is said to be rivaled by the American Apaches.

The Z-10 is an attack helicopter with a 1,120-kilometer range and weighs roughly 5,100 kilos when empty. It includes a 23-millimeter caliber revolver pistol and four external hardpoints that can hold air-to-ground, air-to-air, and rocket launchers.

Up to 16 anti-tank missiles, four multiple 7-barrel rocket launchers, or two multiple 32-barrel rocket launchers can be mounted on the helicopter with the ability to employ different combinations for various missions.

For instance, missiles can be employed against tanks and armored vehicles, while rockets and guns will be used against infantry.

The Z-10 is easier to manage, has a more extended range, and has an excellent multi-tasking capability than its international competitors, such as the Eurocopter Tiger, due to its excellent aerodynamic design and domestically produced engine handling, and maneuverability.

z-10
File Image: Z-10 Chopper

The WZ-16 engine, which was reportedly being developed with assistance from French helicopter engine manufacturer Safran Helicopter Engines to realize the high-altitude capability in Z-10s, has reportedly been installed in its most recent border patrols.

While a lot remains known about the Z-10 attack helicopter, there are precise details about the modified export variant Z-10ME, which is now all over the internet.

Most Advanced Z-10 Variant To Be Exported

According to its manufacturer, China’s made-for-export attack helicopter Z-10ME is outfitted with a new infrared depressor that increases its ability to evade adversarial missiles. The helicopter reportedly has upward-facing exhausts, first observed at the Zhuhai Air Show 2018.

In 2018, a domestic technological inspection was completed for the independently built medium-sized attack helicopter, Z-10ME, which was designed primarily for the global arms market. It features an infrared depressor, a sand filter, bulletproof armor, and crash-resistant pilot seats.

The six-ton-class Z-10ME can fly with excellent mobility at very low altitudes, enabling it to unleash powerful firepower while maintaining high survivability. The manufacturer claimed it could battle day and night and carry various guided and unguided air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons.

A Twitter user observed that the export variant visible in the new photograph has become heavier. Even though details are missing, the new helicopter has improved motorization.

In addition, the new helicopter is likely fitted with better engines, allowing it to fly at higher altitudes. The helicopter was last seen at the Singapore Air Show in February 2022, where it was displayed in the helicopter exhibition area alongside Z-19E, and the Z-9WE, according to China Military.

Military experts claim that several nations in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and South America require medium-sized attack helicopters with adequate firepower that are less expensive than the US-made AH-64 Apache, making the economical Z-10ME a smart alternative.

Z-10ME For Pakistan?

In January 2022, Pakistan decided against purchasing the Turkish-built T129 attack helicopter in favor of the Chinese-made Z-10ME. The announcement was made on January 5 by Major General Babar Iftikhar, spokesman for the Pakistani Army.

When asked if the Turkish arrangement was still in place during a news conference, Iftikhar responded by saying that Pakistan had moved on as far as the Turkish deal was concerned. He had then stated that talks with China to purchase new Z-10ME attack helicopters were in progress.

The T-129 ATAK helicopter (Wikimedia Commons)

The deal for 30 Turkish T129 ATAK helicopters was valued at $1.5 billion. It was reportedly called off due to the delays in procurement.

The US refused to grant permission to export the LHTEC T800-4A engines, a variation of the CTS800 engine jointly developed by Honeywell and Rolls-Royce, leading to the delays.

The Z-10ME is comparable to the T129 ATAK in terms of performance, capacities, sensors, and equipment. Pakistan will be the first foreign buyer of the Chinese helicopter if the deal goes through, just as it was with the J-10C.

It is unclear how many helicopters Islamabad will purchase, but the number is speculated to be 30, the same as the T129 ATAK deal. Some online users suspect that a purchase will be made by 2023. However, there has been no official statement regarding the same yet.

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