The China-made attack helicopter Z-19E made its deput flight from the Harbin airport on Friday marking a major step towards the country's entry into the global market for combative choppers.
Also called the "Black Whirlwind," the Z-19E, which took the maiden flight on Thursday, is the first export-oriented attack helicopter developed by the AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry Group. Based on the Z-19's design, the 19E can be used in quick-response, low-impact and frequent attack missions, the China National Radio reported.
China has rattled nerves around the region with its plan to reform its military, the world's largest, focusing on quality over quantity and replacing old equipment and tactics dating back decades, underpinned by billions of dollars in spending.
The Z-19E, developed by the state-owned AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry, took to the skies over the city of Harbin for its maiden flight, with images carried on state television.
"The helicopter is the latest narrow-body tandem-seat armed helicopter. It is also the country's first export-oriented helicopter made especially for attack purposes," state news agency Xinhua said.
It is specifically designed to meet the requirements of the foreign market, the news agency added. "It is able to be deployed for battlefield support and a variety of other missions in a complicated battlefield environment during both day and night," Li Shengwei, deputy chief designer of AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry, told Xinhua.
The Z-19E is mainly intended to attack tanks, armoured vehicles and other ground targets, flying at very low altitudes, Xinhua added.
With a tandem dual-seat cabin, it provides both pilots with good line of vision, it said. China has rolled out a series of increasingly advanced equipment in recent years, including stealth fighter jets and the first domestically developed aircraft carrier.
China has also increasingly been focused at getting more defense orders on the world market, trying to shed a reputation for poor reliability or cloning weapons. Deputy chief designer Li Shengwei said the helicopter is equipped with safety features to improve the pilot's survival rate. "The Z-19E and Z-9 are similar in many respects," Li said. In terms of manoeuvrability and functions, the Z-19E meets international standards and its operating interface is in English, he said.
"The Z-19E has strong market potential as some of its components are compatible with other countries' military systems," Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the PLA Rocket Force, told the state-run Global Times.
Song also noted that the helicopter would fare well in the global market. It is aimed at countries which require light military helicopters with medium-level attack power, he said.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: May 19, 2017 10:26 AM