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Z-10 Attack Helicopter – Russia Is the Real Father of China’s Attack Helicopter

Few people suspect that China’s most advanced Z-10 attack helicopter is not designed by themself as the previous information, but the Kamov helicopter design institute, helped design. This information was revealed by Kamov at the Heli-Expo 2013 in Las Vegas.

Helicopters are the most effective means used for logistics, warfare and rescue purposes. Today, attack helicopters only focus on two main tasks:

first, direct short range air support and accurate for infantry, second, anti-tank missions and focus points enemy armored vehicles.

The Z-10, also called WZ-10, is an attack helicopter developed by the People’s Republic of China. It is designed primarily for anti-tank warfare missions but has secondary air-to-air capability as well. It was co-designed by Kamov design bureau of Russia under a contract with the Chinese government, and the 602 Research Institute under Wu Ximing and is being built by Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation.

Z-10 attack helicopters began to develop in the mid 1990s. Prototype of the Z-10 made its maiden flight in 2003. The first helicopter was delivered to the People’s Liberation Army in 2009. The Z-10 was displayed for the first time at the 9th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai in November 2012.

Origin from Russia

Few people suspect that China’s most advanced Z-10 attack helicopter is not designed by themself as the previous information, but the Kamov helicopter design institute, helped design. This information was revealed by Kamov at the Heli-Expo 2013 in Las Vegas.

According to the chief designer of Kamov Helicopter Design Office, Sergey Mikheev said that in 1995, Kamov was developing a preliminary design of a 6-ton attack helicopter for the Chinese Government, but all information about this cooperation program has been kept secret by both parties so far.

Kamov’s chief designer said that his design department had developed an attack helicopter project called Project 941, which was designed not based on any of the other helicopter projects. The Soviet Union was only designed completely according to China’s unique requirements.

“They gave us the weight of the new helicopter that needs to be designed, we discussed the preliminary specifications, then signed the contract and completed the full contract,” Mikheev told.

After Kamov helicopter design office completed the design of Project 941, the Russian helicopter design department confirmed this design through testing, then provided design to China. From these detailed design drawings, China has successfully developed the modern Z-10 attack helicopter.


The Z-10, also known as the WZ-10, is China’s most advanced attack helicopter, which is equipped with modern, self-developed Chinese avionics electronic systems. Infrared tracking, making it capable of operating in all weather conditions, day and night. In addition, Z-10 is also equipped with GPS, radar, optoelectronic camera system, a helmet mounted sight with night vision goggles and a fly-by-wire control system, making aiming and tracking targets more efficient.

Z-10 is made of a special composite material, capable of absorbing radar waves, minimizing the possibility of being detected in combat. The cockpit glass of the WZ-10 is designed to prevent 7.62mm bullets, while the armor is designed under the cabin with the ability to withstand 12.7mm bullets of aircraft guns.

In addition, there is a launch system under each pilot seat in case the pilot needs to escape. Currently, China is producing series for this type of attack helicopter and has recruited some ready-to-fight Z-10 units. In addition, they are actively promoting to export although few countries have indicated that they will buy this helicopter because of concerns that Chinese defense products are not of good quality with Russian and American goods. The Pakistan Army acquired 3 units for evaluation with a follow up order for 7 more, but in 2017 they opted for the AgustaWestland T129 and plan to manufacture aircraft parts in Pakistan.

Powerplant and performance

Z-10 equipped with pair of WZ-9 engines is said to be the version of Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine 1,350 shaft horsepower each combined with five-bladed main rotor assembly fitted low on the fuselage top and a pair of two-bladed tail rotor units. The maximum speed of Z-10 reaches 270 km/h, the range is about 800km.

The flight control of both aviators serves to back each other up, and the pilot, who is also the team leader of the aircrew, may override the gunner’s commands. The engines and the fuel tank are located in the middle of the fuselage.

The canopy of the cockpit is specially treated to prevent glare from the sun, and, as an additional option, a tanned version is also available for camouflage purposes, though this is not standard.

Tracking and engagement systems are housed in a positional nose assembly as in the AH-64 and a chin-mounted turret houses the standard cannon armament. The fuselage is slim which promotes a very tight forward profile and fits a pair of turboshaft engines high in its configuration.

The empennage is set low in the design with a conventional tail rotor offset to the starboard side. The tail rotor sits atop a tall vertical tail fin. At its base are a pair of horizontal stabilizers.


The chin mounted turret can be fitted with a 20mm or 30mm autocannon. There is even the option of equipping either 35-40mm grenade launchers or 12.7 to 14.5mm multi-barrel guns. Two stub wings provide four hardpoints for holding external weapons. The undercarriage is fixed and consists of two single-wheeled main legs and a single-wheeled tail leg.

The electronic countermeasures suite of the Z-10 integrates a radar warning receiver, a laser warning receiver, an infrared jammer and flare decoy launching system.

Z-10’s ability to carry weapons has never been revealed, but it is estimated that it can carry up to 2 tons of weapons including rockets, missiles and gunpods.

According to the documents, the Z-10 carries up to 16 anti-tank missiles HJ-8, HJ-9 and HJ-10; up to 16 TY-90 air-to-air missiles or 4 PL-5, PL-7 and PL-9 air-to-air missiles. In the picture, the Z-10 is launching the HJ-10 anti-tank missile that is supposed to have the same design as the famous US AGM-114 rocket.

Export potential

Z-10 is said to be in the same class as AH-2 Rooivalk and A-129 Mangusta, but its capacity is not equal to AH-64 Apache.

Z-10’s main mission is to destroy tanks and attack the ground. However, Z-10 also has a bit of air to air capability.

It must also be admired for the Chinese that most of the remaining work involves the construction of an aircraft that comes with its equipment such as engines, electronic systems, weapons from the largest to the screw are made in China.