Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Z-10 Thunderbolt Toward Like To Be The American AH-64 Apache

An Army Aviation Z-10 attack helicopter is shown here. Co-developed by the 602 Institute, CHAIC and HAIG as the first dedicated modern attack helicopter for PLA Army Aviation since 1998, Z-10 is generally believed in the same class as South African Rooviak and Italian A129, yet still not as capable as American AH-64 Apache
The helicopter adopts a standard gunship configuration with a narrow fuselage and stepped tandem cockpit with the gunner in the front seat and the pilot in the backseat. The fuselage appears to have a stealthy diamond shaped cross section to reduce RCS. It also have a 5-blade main rotor made of composite material and an AH-64 style 4-blade tail rotor. All the vital areas of the fuselage including the cockpit and fuel tanks are believed to be protected by the armor plates. It weighs about 5.5 tons and was powered initially by two P&W PT6C-76C turboshaft engines (rated @ 1,250kW each) on the prototypes. However domestic developed engines (upgraded WZ-9) are being used in production batches due to the embargo imposed by the west. Its rotor and transmission systems may have been designed with extensive technical assistance from Eurocopter France and Agusta. Its main weapon are 8 newly developed KD-9 or KD-10 ATGMs in the same class of American AGM-114 Hellfire. A 23mm cannon is mounted under the chin, aimed via gunner's helmet mounted display. Also up to 8 PL-90 AAMs can be carried against enemy helicopters and slow-moving fixed wing aircraft. Its range can be further extended by external fuel tanks. Similar to AH-64, Z-10 features nose mounted PNVS and TVDS housing FLIR, TV camera, laser range finder and designator. RWR and radar jammer antennas are installed on both sides of the forward and aft fuselage. In addition, two laser warning receivers was installed on top of the pylon tips. The helicopter may have been fitted with an integrated communication/navigation system, a comprehensive ECM suite, IFF, chaff/flare launchers, 1553B data bus, HOTAS and a glass cockpit. A preliminary concept was developed in 1995 by Russian Kamov OKB as a contrator. The full development started in 1998 at 602. Two prototypes were built in 2003 and six more were built in 2004. The first flight of 02 prototype took place on April 29, 2003. Several Z-10 prototypes powered by PT6C-76C engine were evaluated by the Army in 2007. However the production was halted due to the embargo of PT6C-76C engine imposed by the Canadian government. In 2009 it was reported that an "optimized" version (Z-10A?) was under development and expected to enter the mass production. This version is powered by the less powerful WZ-9 engines (~1,000kW) thus was forced to have its weight reduced by eliminating certain less-critical parts such as less armor protection, smaller PNVS/TVDS on the nose similar to that of Z-9WA and a smaller weapon load. After its design certification in October 2010, the first batch of 12 Z-10s entered the service with PLA Army Aviation (S/N LH951xx) in late 2010. More Z-10s are entering the service with the Army (S/N LH981xx, 961xx, 941xx, 991xx, 911xx) since late 2011. However some still carry the original PNVS/TVDS installed on the prototypes but are powered by WZ-9 turboshafts. This version also features additional equipment such as an IR jammer (?) installed on the cockpit roof. It has been speculated that Z-10 could be powered by the new WZ-16 turboshaft engine (~1,500kw) in the future.

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