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20 May 2017

China's new attack helicopter takes maiden flight

China has unveiled the Z-19E, an indigenously developed attack helicopter aimed at the growing arms export market.

This comes amid growing regional insecurity from China's plans to reform and rapidly modernize its military by focusing on quality of equipment rather than quantity.

China is spending billions of dollars in defense research and development.

The Z-19E could be comparable to India's indigenous Light Combat Helicopter.

In context

India's LCH vs China's Z-19E combat helicopter

Z-19E Capabilities

Z-19E aimed at attacking tanks, armored vehicles

The Z-19E, also called "Black Whirlwind," has been developed by the Chinese state-owned AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry. It's an export variant of the Chinese military's Z-19 attack helicopter.

The Z-19E is meant to fly at low altitudes and attack tanks, armored vehicles and other ground or low-flying targets.

Chinese media reported that it can undertake quick-response, low-impact and frequent attack missions.


Z-19E geared for export customers

The Z-19E's deputy chief designer Li Shengwei said the helicopter meets international standards when it comes to manoeuvrability and functions.

The chopper's operating interphase is in English and "some of its components are compatible with other countries' military systems," he added.

"The Z-19E is aimed at countries which require light military helicopters with medium-level attack power," the China's Global Times reported.

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India competes

India's Light Combat Helicopter a competition for China's Z-19E

India's Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) has developed the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).

The LCH, which is based on the HAL's proven Dhruv platform, is undergoing advanced stages of testing and will soon be inducted in the army and air force.

The Indian government has expressed interest in exporting the LCH, which could place it in direct competition with China's Z-19E.

LCH Capabilities

Heavily-armed LCH designed for high-altitude warfare in frigid mountainous region

The need for the LCH was envisaged after the 1999 Kargil conflict when the Indian Air Force was unable to field attack helicopters at high Himalayan altitudes.

The LCH is currently the world's only attack helicopter that is designed to carry operations at high altitudes, including the 19,600-feet high Siachen glacier.

It's armed with a nose-mounted machine gun, rockets, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles.


Foreign countries have expressed interest in India's LCH

In May 2016, it was reported that India was in talks with "certain" African countries over the possible sale for the LCH. No further information was given.

The Indian Air Force has placed an order for 65 LCH, the army has ordered 114.

The LCH, which contains state-of-the-art avionics and sensors, can undertake air defence, anti-tank, scout and support combat search & rescue missions.

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