China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has equipped one of its Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC) Z-10 attack helicopter with additional armour.
An image released in late September by state broadcaster CCTV shows a PLA Z-10 at a Chinese airfield featuring extra armour panels that have been externally attached to the helicopter.
The image shows that the panels, which are presumably on both sides of the tandem-seat helicopter, are present in three areas. The first two panels can be seen just below both of the cockpit's side windows, with the one located under the front cockpit window being the larger of the two.
The third panel, which is the largest of the three, covers the lower middle section of the housing for the helicopter's WZ9 turboshaft engine.
A 10 October report by the state-owned Global Times newspaper quoted Beijing-based military analyst Wei Dongxu as saying that the additional armour panels are likely to be made of a strong and light material supposedly based on graphene.
"Chinese helicopters, including the Z-10, did not have extra armour because their engines could only lift a certain weight," Wei was quoted as saying, adding that the choice for graphene was made to solve the weight issue.
It is unclear, however, how many have of the Z-10s operated by the PLA's ground force aviation units have been fitted with the additional armour.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at ihsmarkit.com/janes