By S.L. Fuller | September 15, 2016
The WZ-10 replaces the Z-9 as China's primary attack helicopter.
China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has equipped all its ground forces with WZ-10s, according to news reports. These combat helicopters, also referred to simply as Z-10s, are designed primarily for anti-tank missions.
The Z-10 replaces the PLA's Z-9 as its primary attack helicopter, which it had been for 20 yr, according to a Forecast International report. The Z-9 was originally designed as a multi-mission utility rotorcraft, never with intentions to serve only in combat.
Produced by Changhe Aircraft Industries Group, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the Z-10 project began in the mid-1990s. Its first flight didn't come until April 2003, and due to delays caused by engine selection, the first delivery didn't come until 2010.
Another PLA combat helicopter is the Z-19, a lightweight aircraft with significantly less power than the Z-10. Forecast International puts its service entry in mid-2013, but the Chinese government lacks transparency, making specifics difficult to come by.
"Unlike the U.S. and Western Europe, there isn't a transparent budget process for military aircraft that necessitates a lot of publicity and disclosure regarding the selection and progress on developing and building military aircraft," Forecast International Aerospace Analyst Douglas Royce told R&WI. "Even on the civil side, manufacturers don't feel the need to share information with the public."
What can be seen, Royce continued, is that the PLA is currently implementing strategy to upgrade its aerospace program. With the Z-10 equipped in all ground forces, it’s heading in that direction.