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WZ-19 Black Tornado - Program

The helicopter main design was led by Wu Ximing in 2010 when the project completed the detailed design. The prototype in July 2010 that year the first flight. 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.

In 2011 it entered service first with Beijing Luhang 8, Shenyang 9 Group, after the Chengdu 2 brigade, 3 Lanzhou, 4 General Staff, 7 Shandong Jinan and so on.

By 2014 the WZ-19 reached an annual production rate of 40 per year. As of May 2017, production had reach a total of 176 aircraft.

The Z-19E helicopter conducted its maiden flight 18 May 2017 over the city of Harbin in northeastern China. State-owned AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry developed the Z-19E attack chopper with the intention of selling it to foreign clients. The Z-19E is the first export-oriented helicopter made especially for attack purposes.

It will mainly fill capabilities gaps for foreign militaries seeking ground-target strikes. The helicopter is armed with anti-tank and anti-armored personnel carrier munitions, Xinhua reported. It will also be able to work with special operations forces in reconnaissance missions, Defence Blog noted.

China is ready to export one of its top military helicopters. "The government has given the green light for the export of the WZ-19. Actually, some foreign buyers are in negotiations with us on the procurement of this helicopter," said Wu Ximing, chief helicopter designer at Aviation Industry Corp of China, on 10 September 2015. Wu spoke with China Daily on the sidelines of the Third China Helicopter Expo. "We will adjust equipment or weapons based on each buyer's specific requirements. As a matter of fact, some potential buyers have been involved in the design of the WZ-19's export type," he said.

Wu declined to reveal identities of potential buyers, but hinted they are traditional users of Chinese aircraft. "Compared with its rivals in the market, the WZ-19E is easier to operate and maintain. It has a strong capability, and its price is competitive," he said.

The aviation giant displayed an export version of the WZ-19 reconnaissance/attack helicopter, which it calls the WZ-19E, at the five-day expo. An introduction board placed in front of the aircraft says it is a light-duty military helicopter used to conduct air-to-surface strike against tanks, armored vehicles and fortifications. It can also carry air-to-air missiles to battle enemy helicopters, the introduction said.

Harbin Aviation Industries Group (HAIG) hopes that the narrow-body chopper will fill demand for armies looking to improve their ground attack capabilities. Being very similar to the Z-19, its domestic cousin, developers say that the foreign-market oriented Z-19E is up to international standards, and that it has an English-language operating interface.

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