Chinese military equips all ground forces with new attack helicopters

PTI | September 8, 2016

China’s military has equipped all of its ground forces with advanced WZ-10 combat helicopters which will be used to target battle tanks and air-to-air combat missions, a strategic move which could have implications for India.

China’s new WZ-10 armed helicopters.
China’s new WZ-10 armed helicopters.

Several WZ-10s have been delivered to an aviation brigade of the PLA’s 13th Group Army under the Western Theatre Command, the People’s Liberation Army’s TV news channel reported.

This means that all of the Army’s aviation units now have this advanced attack helicopter, state-run China Daily reported.

Senior Colonel Xu Guolin, deputy chief of the PLA Army’s Aviation Equipment Bureau, told the news channel that all of the group armies will have at least one aviation brigade or regiment.

The helicopter was designed primarily for anti-tank missions, but now has a secondary air-to-air combat capability.

Wu Peixin, an aviation analyst in Beijing, said the PLA Army now has a strong force of dedicated combat helicopters thanks to the service of the WZ-10 and WZ-19, another attack helicopter that is less powerful than the WZ-10.

“The Army now needs more medium-lift, multipurpose helicopters such as the US Army’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk,” he said.

“This helicopter is capable of performing both combat operations and transport tasks.”

Gao Zhuo, a military observer in Shanghai, said the PLA Army needs at least 3,000 helicopters, especially heavy-lift transport types and multipurpose models.

Meanwhile, the Chinese military has discounted media reports that China’s stealth fighter J-20, currently undergoing trials, will be deployed in Tibet along the India-China border.

Reacting to reports that J-20 was spotted at the Daocheng Yading Airport in Tibet, an article in the PLA website said that J-20 will be put into service soon but the China-India border is apparently not the ideal place for its deployment.

“In addition, the world’s highest airport there does not have a complete set of supporting facilities and such shortage will impede the function of J-20,” it said

“J-20 will not be deployed in Daocheng Yading airport as the airport is too close to the border, and it is vulnerable to India’s first wave hit. If India is to deploy BrahMos missile on the China-India border, then the Daocheng Yading airport will likely become its target,” it said.

“Experts pointed out that for India, China is undoubtedly its largest opponent and therefore every move of the Chinese military will touch the nerve of Indian media,” it said.

“India is not yet the biggest threat for China and though confrontation events along the border would occur from time to time, the overall situation is rather stable,” it said.

“In this way, China does not put too much emphasis and focus targeting India. Chinese equipment deployment and drills along the border are mostly confirmatory, mainly to gain experience, improve high-altitude combat capability, and form deterrent ability,” it said.