New images of a Chinese multirole attack helicopter design have been unveiled in advance of its first public appearance in coming hours.
Planned to make its debut at the Zhuhai Airshow, which opens on 13 November and runs until 18 November, the CAIC (Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation) WZ-10 is the Chinese equivalent of the West's most fearsome attack helicopters, including the Boeing AH-64 Apache series and the Eurocopter Tigre.
Images now released of the design confirm that it boasts a five-bladed rotor system, a nose-mounted machine gun and weapons hardpoints either side of the fuselage.
Chinese Attack Helicopter
Detailed data on the WZ-10 Chinese attack helicopter programme is limited but it's thought work on the design first started in the mid-late 1980s and that the prototype made its first flight as long ago as 2003. The WZ-10 is then believed to have entered PLAAF (People's Liberation Army Air Force) service two years ago.
The WZ-10 is operated by a crew of two and, besides its nose-mounted cannon, can probably also be loaded with air-to-air and air-to-tank missiles. The first Chinese attack helicopter to have been designed to work in the anti-tank, battlefield interdiction and attack roles, it's also seemingly a true multirole design.
CAIC WZ-10 Helicopter
It's possible that the CAIC WZ-10 helicopter is fly-by wire-controlled and that its pilots wear head-mounted HUD (Head-Up Display) systems. Like the Apache and the Tigre, a key feature is its narrow fuselage, giving it a slim head-on profile and minimising its presence on enemy radar screens.
China has been working on several significant military programmes of late. It recently launched its first aircraft carrier and unveiled a second J-20 fighter variant, placing it among a handful of nations with stealth-enhanced combat aircraft in operation.
The Zhuhai Airshow is a biannual event staged every two years since 1996. A showcase for the Chinese aerospace industry at large, it also attracts significant foreign participation, including regular Russian involvement.