10 on 10 for China’s Z-10ME

China’s Z-10ME
China’s Z-10ME

The appearance of a fully equipped Chinese attack helicopter is surely one of the biggest surprises of the Singapore Airshow.

The six-tonne attack helicopter, which occupies pride of place on the outdoor static display, has been brought to the show by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC). We are targeting sales in Middle East, Southeast Asia and South America, a company official who did not wish to be named told AMR. The official added that the helicopter carried an affordable price tag with an offer for Transfer of Technology (ToT) if needed. The Z-10ME made its first public appearance in China in 2018 but at that time did not feature the millimetre-wave fire control radar or extensive self-protection systems now on display.

The helicopter being shown at the airshow carries the Serial No. Z10ME-02 and appears to be the second company owned prototype. The Z-10ME is being displayed alongside a wide-variety Chinese produced munitions, including FS70B aerial blast fragmentation rockets, GR5 guided rockets, TY-90 air-to-air missile, CM-502KG air-to-surface missiles. The helicopter is fitted with a chin-mounted 23mm cannon and a nose-mounted EO pod, in addition to a millimetre-wave fire control radar.

The helicopter on display featured two-rocket pods which can together accommodate 14 rockets on the inner stub wings, followed four TY-90 air-to-air missiles and CM-502KG air-to-surface missiles on the underwing pylons. It can also be configured to carry 16 Anti-Tank missiles or four seven-barrel rocket launcher or two 19-barrel rocket launchers.

The tandem-seat helicopter is heavily armoured and is also fitted with a Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS), Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and countermeasures dispensing systems. The Z-10ME can be distinguished by its distinctive engine intake filters and the upward pointing exhausts for its more powerful Chinese developed engines (WZ-9C ?), which are rumoured to generate 1,200 kW each.

The Z-10ME is a heavily modernised variant of the Z-10 attack helicopter which has been operational with the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) for over a decade now. The Z-10ME is also in service with the PLA, with Pakistan thought to be the first export customer for the attack helicopter.

by Mike Rajkumar