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Air Platforms

Airshow China 2018: Upgraded Z-10ME attack helicopter breaks cover

09 November 2018
Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation has showcased its export-oriented Z-10ME attack helicopter at Airshow China 2018. Source: IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has unveiled an improved version of its Zhishengji-10ME (Z-10ME), an export-oriented variant of the People's Liberation Army Air Force's (PLAAF's) Z-10K all-weather multirole attack helicopter, for the first time in public at the Airshow China 2018 exhibition in Zhuhai.

Developed by AVIC's helicopter division Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC), the tandem-seat Z-10ME initially surfaced as a conceptual model at Paris Air Show 2017, but the first production-ready helicopter - with serial number Z-10ME001 - was already flying by September 2018.

The latest variant incorporates several enhancements over the in-service Z-10K, with active and passive survivability modifications including a comprehensive airborne countermeasures suite comprising an indigenously developed missile approach warning system (MAWS) and radar warning receiver (RWR), which can be configured to automatically dispense chaff or flares from two box-shaped 6×4 dispenser systems on either side of the fuselage.

Meanwhile, passive defences include a revised engine nozzle layout that is upturned to channel hot exhaust gases upwards to reduce the helicopter's infrared (IR) signature, as opposed to the baseline People's Liberation Army (PLA) army aviation Z-10 and PLAAF Z-10K's conventional sideways exhaust configuration. The Z-10ME is also outfitted with inlet particle separators (IPS) for the twin intakes to reduce sand, dust, and other harmful solid particulate damage to critical engine and propulsion components resulting in power loss.

The Z-10ME on display also featured appliqué armour panels - widely reported to be manufactured from extremely light but robust graphene super material - that have been attached to the helicopter's fuselage just immediately under and slightly forward of both cockpit's side windows, with the front-most armour panel wrapping around the MAWS sensor module.

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