Pakistan is awaiting Z-10ME delivery – the Chinese copycat of Apache
ISLAMABAD ($1=218.37 Pakistani Rupees) — In 2023, Pakistan Army Aviation will begin receiving Chinese Z-10 helicopters. A source from the Ministry of Defense of Pakistan confirmed the news to BulgarianMilitary.com. The source stressed that the helicopter will be a modification of the Z-10ME and not the long-running Z-10MP.
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The Chinese helicopter is a copy of the American flagship Boeing AH-64 Apache. Interestingly, it is not the Pakistani Air Force that will acquire the helicopter, but the army. This has primarily a production effect, as support through the military is carried out more quickly.
China won Pakistan’s request for new helicopters for the Pakistan Army with a stroke of luck. 30 helicopters Islamabad wanted to buy from Turkey, model T129 ATAK. However, Ankara began to suffer sanctions under the US CAASTA Act after purchasing the Russian S-400 air defense systems. Thus, Washington denied Ankara the supply of the engines powering the Turkish attack helicopters.
The case study “Philippines”
In late 2021, just two months before Pakistan rejected the order from Turkey, the US gave Turkey permission to sell the same model of helicopters to the Philippines. Six helicopters were ordered by the Asian country, with the first two already transported to Clark Air Base in March 2022.
Many Pakistani analysts and journalists described such American actions as a double standard. A political decision directed not so much against Turkey as against Pakistan were the common comments.
However, the truth is a little different. The Philippines made its order months before the US formally sanctioned Turkey under the CAATSA law. Thus, Ankara had no problems fulfilling its order to the Philippines according to the specifications offered, including propulsion systems.
Pakistan and Ukrainian engines
Turkey could have saved the deal with Pakistan. The refusal of the US to allow the export to Pakistan of 30 T129 ATAK helicopters opened up opportunities for the Ukrainian engine manufacturer Motor Sich.
On June 2, 2021, Ankara and Kyiv agreed to supply 14 engines for the T129 ATAK helicopters. They were intended for the Turkish army. However, there have been speculative comments that it is with such an engine that Turkey can keep the deal with Pakistan and fulfill its obligations.
However, this did not happen. There could be two reasons. The first is that only a few months later, Russia invaded Ukraine and started a war between the two countries. This logically changes not only the production processes at Motor Sich but also the supply. The second reason is very likely – China has a large share in Motor Sich, through state-owned companies. In this regard, it is easy to stop the supply of engines to Pakistani helicopters, thus Beijing decided to offer Islamabad its version, namely the Z-10.
What does Pakistan get?
The Z-10ME is the newest and latest variant of the Chinese Z-10 helicopter. However, it all started in the 1990s, when Beijing decided it needed to have its own attack helicopter. There is no exact information on who helped China develop it and how. Some sources claim that engineers from the Russian Kamov helicopter design bureau laid the foundations, while others that China partnered with Eurocopter and Agusta.
What Pakistan gets by acquiring the Z-10ME is a deep upgrade of the original, aimed at improving the helicopter’s performance. New active and passive countermeasures, incoming missile warning along with a radar warning receiver.
The Z-10ME has a much lower infrared signature. This was achieved by raising the engine exhaust nozzle upwards. In this regard, unlike the original, the З-10МЕ gets a new, much more powerful engine model WZ-9G 1200 kW. On the Z-10ME there are also improvements related to inlet filtering, more magazines for more ammunition, graphene armor panels, infrared jamming, and a new IFF interrogating top-mounted fire control radar. However, it is not clear whether Islamabad has asked Beijing to install laser jamming stations. This is an option that is only offered if the customer requests it.
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