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WZ-19 Black Tornado

The new Chinese Army Aviation WZ-19 attack helicopters are mainly used to attack tanks and other heavy targets. The new Harbin/AVIC WZ-19 attack helicopter is based on the Z-9W anti-armor attack helicopter, which itself was derived from the license-built AS-365N. The WZ-19 used the engines (WoZhou WZ8A?), rotor, aft fuselage and tail section (including Fenestron tailrotor) with minor modifications from H425 [one of the recent upgraded variants of the Z-9] swhich speeds up the development. Unlike the the Z-9W, which was basically an wide-body armed utility helicopter, the WZ-19 features a new narrow forwarded fuselage with tandem compact layout similar to that of the other gunship helicopters like Z-10, TAI/Agusta Westland T-129, AH-1Z Viper, AH-64 Apache, Eurocopter Tiger, Mil Mi-28 and HAL Light Combat Helicopter.

The WZ-19 features a narrow forward fuselage and a tandem cockpit layout similar to those of Z-10, but with reversed seating - the pilot sitting in the front seat and gunner in the back seat. Both crew are protected by armor plates, crash-resist seats and non-retractable front landing gears. It also features a Z-9WA style nose mounted EO turret (FLIR, TV and laser range finder), with armament consisting of on 30mm canon in chin turret. The helicopter can also carry the air-to-air and air-to-ground weapon package similar to that of Z-9WA under a pair of stub wings, including KD-8 ATGMs, PL-90 AAMs as well as 23mm gun pods and rocket lanchers.

The WZ-19 helicopter has a take off weight of 4,500kg, empty weight 2,350kg, max cruising speed 245km/h [about 150 mph], max climb rate 9m/s [over 1,500 ft/minute], range 700km [450 miles], ceiling (out of ground effect) 2,400m, endurance of over 3hours. The exhaust ports help reduce the use of the infrared signal design.

In July 2010 the Chinese aviation firm AVIC revealed the first prototype of the new home-grown WZ-19 anti-armor attack helicopter. The prototype may have flown during May 2010. The Z-19 prototype was undergoing a test flight at the Harbin Aircraft Industrial Corporation [HAIC] airfield. It was reported that one prototype crashed on September 18, 2010.

The WZ-19 isn't really an "Attack helicopter", but is rather more like an armed scout. The WZ-19 is a light (4 ton) reconnaissance & attack helicopter akin to Japan's OH-1 or the American AH-1 Cobra, while the WZ-10 is a mid-weight (6 tons) dedicated attack helicopter. The Z-19 project was expected to support the heavier Z-10 attack helicopter from Changhe which was delayed by engine problems [aren't they all??]. The WZ-19 is a light scout/attack helicopter, rather smaller and lighter than the WZ-10. The WZ-19 seems more suited for Pakistan than the WZ-10 because it is similar to the AH-1 Cobra which Pakistan operates, and the WZ-19 shares components with the Z-9 so it would be more convenient to maintain. Some analysts have pointed out that the WZ-10 medium-sized attack helicopter development work is now nearing completion, while new entrants are likely to launch the WZ-19 with the formation of high and low with the former, the former quantity to cover the shortage of the later.

The primary task of the WZ-10 and WZ-19 armed helicopters is to provide fire support on battlefields. Characterized by excellent flight performances and extreme low-altitude maneuverability, the helicopters can be equipped with multiple air-to-air and air-to-ground precision-guided weapons, and possess the daytime and nighttime combat capabilities. All the troop units equipped with these armed helicopters have successively established flight tackling teams in order to tackle highly-difficult problems in flight of these armed helicopters, explored new training methods and tactics by focusing on the characteristics of future wars, and established a complete training system for these new-type armed helicopters.

China is also reported to be working on a heavy (10 tons WZ-20?) attack helicopter.

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