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Video Above: China-Taiwan War

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

A Chinese government-backed newspaper is reporting new details of an upgraded People’s Liberation Army attack helicopter called the Z-10. The Chinese aircraft is described as a tank and ship killer capable of land and maritime attacks.

The helicopter, which looks like a deliberate blending of designs between the U.S. Army’s famous Apache attack helicopter and several somewhat stealthy attack/reconnaissance helicopters now being built for the service’s Future Vertical Lift program.

China's Z-10 Attack Helicopter: Weapons

Some of the new details of the Z-10, explained in the Global Times newspaper, include the mention of its ability to arm up with up to 16 anti-tank missiles, four 7-barrel multiple rocket launchers and 32-barrel multiple rocket launchers. The Global Times quotes a Z-10 pilot describing that the helicopter can be specifically configured for different missions.

“Missiles will be used against armored vehicles and tanks, and rockets and the gun will be used against infantry targets,” the paper states. “When attacking a hostile tank group, the Z-10 will usually carry eight air-to-ground missiles and two multiple rocket launchers……the missile has an accuracy of 85 percent and each Z-10 sortie can at least destroy six enemy tanks.”

The helicopter can carry both air-to-ground and air-to-air missiles and rockets and is armed with a 23 millimeter caliber revolver gun.

With a range of 1,120 kilometers, the Z-10 has an empty weight of about 5,100 kilograms. It has four external hardpoints that can carry air-to-ground and air-to-air missiles as well as rockets, plus a 23 millimeter caliber revolver gun, according to CCTV's report.

The helicopter can be armed with up to 16 anti-tank missiles, four 7-barrel multiple rocket launchers or two 32-barrel multiple rocket launchers, the paper said. The Z-10 also fires the 50 kilogram-class TY–-90 air-to-air weapons.

“A standard group of four Z-10s can carry 32 anti-tank missiles, eight 57 millimeter caliber multiple rocket launchers and four guns, and this is enough to wipe out three tank companies,” the paper said.

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China's Z-10 Attack Helicopter: Helmet Visor

The helicopter’s lethality is increased by an F-35-like pilot helmet visor which responds to or mirrors eye movements to quickly zero in on targets.

“The pilot of the Z-10 uses a specially made helmet that can display all key parameters and battlefield dynamics directly onto the visor. The pilot can even use the helmet to aim, as the weapons will point to wherever the pilot is looking to through the helmet,” the paper said.

It is by no means clear if this Z-10 pilots targeting helmet is in any way comparable to the F-35s, yet an ability to have targeting closely aligned with eye movement does seem to present a new kind of threat.

Given that the upgraded Z-10 does seem to resemble the stealthy-looking Invictus by Bell, it does not seem surprising that a report in the Global Times last year quotes an analyst describing the Z-10 as possibly having somewhat stealthy characteristics.

“At least one Z-10 attack helicopter featured in the drills is the latest, upgraded variant with upward-facing exhaust openings, which are expected to reduce the chopper’s infrared signals and make it harder to target,” the paper writes.

Interestingly, several pictures of the Z-10 appear to raise the question as to whether the helicopter is a bit of a hybrid between two American designs. The Z-10 resembles both the Apache helicopter and Bell’s new, stealthy-looking Invictus Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft now being developed as part of the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program.

Developing this thought a little further, it does not seem surprising that the Global Times report would quote an analyst describing the Z-10 as possibly having somewhat stealthy characteristics.

“At least one Z-10 attack helicopter featured in the drills is the latest, upgraded variant with upward-facing exhaust openings, which are expected to reduce the chopper’s infrared signals and make it harder to target,” the paper writes.

The Z-10’s exhaust and side structures appear to be conformal and rounded in what could easily be seen as an attempt to increase stealth characteristics. The exhaust also does look horizontal, if not upward facing, as the report explains.

Video Above: China Intends to Overrun Taiwan 

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, President, Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization