CAIC Z-10 Attack Helicopter

Z-10/H/K Thunderbolt at Chinese Military Aviation

The seven tonne Z-10, built by CAIC, entered service with the Chinese Army in 2012. While some French and Israeli hard- ware is reportedly used on the Z-10, all mission software is reportedly indigenous. The digital cockpit features HUD, multi- function displays, night-vision goggle compatibility, fully-integrated navigation systems and a fly-by-wire control system. Later aircraft are equipped with terrain- avoidance and terrain following radar.

The primary mission for the treetop hugging WZ-10 is battlefield interdiction, eliminating the enemy ground fixed and mobile forces, and concurrently certain air combat ability. Development of a dedicated attack helicopter began in the mid-1990s at the 602 Institute and Changhe Aircraft Industry Company (CHAIC) in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province.

The design uses the power plant and transmission derived from the Harbin Z-9, with the fuselage modified to accommodate two pilots.

The helicopter can carry up to 8 ATGMs, or IR-guided short-range AAMs. Although the helicopter might still not be as capable as the U.S. AH-64 Apache, it will probably play a significant role in Army Aviation modernisation and force compabilities.

The navigation and avionics are probably from domestic sources. The navigation system consists of radioaltimeter, doppler radar and GPS.

Reports indicate that the WZ-10 has an optics system that relays sensor information to the pilots helmets; essentially a system similar to the US Integrated Helmet and Display Sighting System (IHADSS). The helmet system also controls the direction that the machine gun is aiming. This allows the pilots to have an improved situation awareness as they can monitor flight systems and observe the terrain.

Two wings along the fuselage that are roughly 4.32 meters long may carry 1,500 kilograms of munitions, including a 57.0 mm multibarrel rockets, the red arrow 10(HJ-10) anti-tank missile. A 23 mm machine gun is fixed to the cabin at the front of the helicopter.

The fire control system is similar to the French Starry Night digital integration design.

The WZ-10 is also equipped with radar warning systems and with systems that will alert the crew that it has been targetted with laser range finders. The helicopter is also equipped with passive countermeasures and in an effort to reduce fratricide is equipped with IFF.

The cabin’s bulletproof glass may resist 7.62 millimeter ammunition and composite armor under the cabin resists 12.7 millimeters machine gun fires. The cabin is equipped to maximize fire protection and thw WZ-10 is also outfitted with ejection seats similar to the Ka-50.

China’s Z-10 attack helicopter can carry the HJ-10 SAL-guided missile. Also known as the AKD-10, this has a range of up to 8 km. The HJ-10 (AKD-10) is China’s third-generation of battlefield anti-tank missile (after the HJ-8 and HJ-9), and the first to be developed as an airborne weapon from the outset. The HJ-10 forms part of the wider weapons and systems package that has been produced for the Changhe Z-10 (WZ-10) combat helicopter. The HJ-10 is in the same class as the US AGM-114 Hellfire but follows a slightly different design approach. The status of the HJ-10 is closely linked to that of the Z-10 attack helicopter which has been under secretive development in China since the late 1990s. The Z-10 is China’s first modern combat helicopter but it has received considerable technical assistance and direct design input from several Western suppliers. The main obstacle to progress for the programme has been to secure a suitable indigenous powerplant. A handful of Z-10 prototypes flew with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C turboshafts, but production standard aircraft (perhaps designated Z-10A) are to be powered by a Chinese-built WZ-9 engine. Delays in fully developing and producing these engines have slowed the Z-10’s entry into service with the People Liberation Army (PLA).



Prototype for basic tests. Not all has the same layout in that some had fenestron configuration while others had traditional tail rotor configuration; some had chin gun turret while other had chain gun; some had nose mounted electro-optical system while others had mast mounted electro-opical system. During test flights, test pilot had to make numerous dangerous emergency landings due to various malfunctions.


Pre-production series powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-76 turboshaft engine.


Simplified Z-10H powered with domestic Chinese WZ-9 engine of 930 – 950 kW range. Due to the drastic reduction of power by nearly a third, MASWS, IRCM and some other subsystems removed; armor is also greatly reduced to save weight.


3 samples built for Pakistan[14] with equipment missing in Z-10K added back, powered by WZ-9C engine with maximum power around 1000 – 1100 kW. Was not selected by Pakistan after evaluation, but the design was used to upgrade Z-10 built earlier when more powerful engine became available.


Upgraded variant first unveiled in 2018 with active and passive countermeasures, missile approach warning system, radar warning receiver, new engine exhaust nozzle pointed upwards to reduce infrared signature, new intake filtration systems and armor panels, more powerful 1200 kW engine, larger ammunition magazine, appliqué graphene-based armor panels, infrared jammer, and a new IFF interrogator.

Z-10 millimeter wave radar

Equipped with Z-19’s millimeter wave radar for ground testing.

General characteristics

Crew: 2

Length: 14.15 m (46 ft 5 in)

Height: 3.85 m (12 ft 8 in)

Empty weight: 5,100 kg (11,244 lb)

Gross weight: 5,540 kg (12,214 lb)

Max takeoff weight: 7,000 kg (15,432 lb)

Powerplant: 2 × WoZhou-9 (WZ-9) turboshaft engines, 1,000 kW (1,300 hp) each

Main rotor diameter: 12 m (39 ft 4 in)


Maximum speed: 270 km/h (170 mph, 150 kn)

Cruise speed: 230 km/h (140 mph, 120 kn)

Range: 800 km (500 mi, 430 nmi)

Service ceiling: 6,400 m (21,000 ft)

g limits: +3

Rate of climb: 10 m/s (2,000 ft/min) +


Guns: 1x 23 mm (0.906 in) revolver gun or 1x 25 mm (0.984 in) M242 Bushmaster chain gun

Hardpoints: 4 with a capacity of 1,500 kg (3,307 lb) useful load,

Rockets: 57 mm (2.244 in) or 90 mm (3.543 in) unguided rocket pods

Missiles: ** Up to 16 HJ-10 air to surface / anti-tank / anti-helicopter missiles. ADK10 is reported to be the official name of HJ10 missile.

Up to 16 HJ-8, HJ-9 missiles

Up to 16 TY-90 air-to-air missiles

Up to 4 PL-5, PL-7, PL-9 air-to-air missiles


YH millimetre-wave fire-control radar

Helmet mounted sight with night vision goggles

BM/KG300G self protection jamming pod

Blue Sky navigation pod

KZ900 reconnaissance pod

YH-96 electronic warfare suite

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