Friday Eye Candy: China’s Newest Attack Helo

Check out these latest photos of China’s newest attack helo, the Z-19. The twin-seat bird, an updated version of the Z-9W that’s been in service since the 1990s, is just one more example of China’s military modernization.

If the chopper’s lines look vaguely familiar, it’s because the bird is based on the Eurocopter Dauphin series, you know, the same ones the U.S. Coast Guard flies. The Z-9 series are licence-built versions of the Dauphin. Now Beijing  has modified it into an attack helo.

Click through the jump for more pics.

Via China Defense Blog.




  • Mitch S.

    Well if for attack helos “uglier is better” then this should be superb.

    • blight

      Then it’s good that the Comanche wasn’t an attack helo.
      Also, ugly Russian attack helos would be good.

    • Tron

      yea this thing is the undisputed champ

  • carloscardoso

    Nice training target. Almost worth an AIM-120. Almost.

    • ddd

      Use a blow dart against it

    • passingby

      how did you get 79p with worthless brainless 1-liners and 2-liners???

      • blight

        Or net positive thumbs up.

        “China has helicopters. Let’s buy four thousand Comanches”

        If I had an account, maybe I’d get points for the above.

        • passingby

          Yep. And if your pitch becomes reality, you will get invited to a formal by Boeing and Sikorsky, where you will likely be presented with a big envelope with some really nice offers in it. I don’t know the going rate of top lobbyists but I wouldn’t be surprised by a 7-digit check, plus a consultant contract with at least a 7-digit annual remuneration plus generous expenses and bonuses.


    Unfortunately, these come standard with Chinese pilots as well.

    • SJE

      I seem to recall the USA saying the same thing about the Japanese and their domestic-designed and built Zeros, until they actually encountered them in combat.

      • Was that before or after the Hellcat was introduced?

        • UAVgeek

          Before. By the time the Hellcat was introduced, a large percentage of Japan’s most experienced Naval Aviators were killed at Midway. Before June of 1942 Japan had the best Naval Air Force in the world. The lesson is relying on cultural heritage, physical stature or past history to make decisions on competence is a huge (and frankly racist) Mistake.

          • tiger

            It’s the great white hype. Still thinking nobody else on Earth can do anything. Good reminder UAVGeek.

          • Klevis

            I am not saying that the “white hype” is a good thing because it makes us lazy and less competitive in the future, but yours is not a good example to counter that. Most probably Japan had used German technology during the 30′ because they were allies with them, so most of it was still “white” technology. As a matter of fact the “white hype” continues deeper in history then the 30’s. It begun when we got free from the church in the 16 century.

          • blight

            The Meiji restoration was built on a kitbash of British, American, French and German technology and military training. They synthesized everything and went through their phases. They did the juene ecole and used torpedo boats against the Russians, did their battleship phase against them in the same war. The whole destroyer-torpedo-boat thing is an extension of the juene ecole phase inherited from French military advisors.

          • UAVgeek

            Excuse me, but technology has no inherent connection with race. In fact what you say is categorically false. Please name examples of German technologies that were used as fielded weapons by Japan (I can think of one, specifically an engine). That being said considering that Japan and Germany were allies there was a pitifully small amount of technological crossflow. Think about what would have happened if the Luftwaffe had been flying Mitsubishi A6M2s with their great range in the Battle of Britain instead of the ME-109? You cannot chalk the advancements up to “white” technology alone. Technology is simply a means to solve a particular problem and all sides in WWII benefited from the Aeronautical development around the world in the 1930s.

          • Thinking_ExUSAF

            While there were some examples of German aircraft technology filtering in during the war, the Zero was, I think, very much a domestic product. When compared to the western designs of the time, the Zero was grossly underpowered, under-armored, but highly maneuverable and with a rather heavy armament (2 X .30 machine guns + 2 X 20mm cannon). It was a flying epitome of the Japanese Samarai mindset, doing away with self-sealing tanks and cockpit armor for the sake of the offensive capability and range.

            For a fairly detailed description of German influence on Japanese aircraft design, check out:

          • So the cream of Japan’s crop was shot down by aircraft they outclassed? (It’s rhetorical). My comment was an aside to SJE.

            This isn’t a racist thing though some seem to be making it so. Chinese pilots are not known for their skill. The N. Koreans and Vietnamese had Russians filling in and they still got beat and sometimes by pilots in clearly outclassed aircraft. There are examples of P51’s and Skyraiders shooting down migs. Maybe those trying to make a case for racism might want to consider that US pilots have shown themselves to be more than competent.

          • blight

            You forgot the Corsair in the Korean War that shot down a Mig.

            Then again, American pilots went down over Vietnam not out of competence, but because of ROE and poor quality missiles; or being asked to pull crazy missions (Iron Hand) in the face of a well-prepared enemy.

          • tiger

            So the cream of Japan’s crop was shot down by aircraft they outclassed?

            No, They had their carriers sunk & went down with them. As for the tone? Depends on the ear. As for skills? It’s not 1950 anymore. Underestimation of a adversary can be fatal.

          • They may have lost more pilots to drowning than air combat at Midway but that was hardly all of their veteran pilots. There were many other battles. Ever heard of the Marianas Turkey shoot? When 600 of 750 airplanes get shot down you have a problem. The thread was about Chinese pilots, then someone tossed in the superiority of the zero that lasted for less than a year.

            There’s a reason the Air Force and the Navy have always had a lopsided exchange rate with our enemies. Some way want to attack American pride as arrogance. The “scoreboard” is pretty good proof to be a tad cocky. Some hate winners, look at the NY Yankees. Most of the detractors are Red Sox and Cubs fans.

          • UAVgeek

            Major, why don’t you analyze how many avg flying hours the pilots that died at the Marianas had at the time they were shot down? Remember what George Washington said “Even Minutiae should have a place in our collection for those things of an even trifling nature when enjoined with those of a more serious cast, may lead to valuable conclusions”. When you can’t train pilots fast enough to replace those killed you lose. It’s not about any kind of inherent superiority. If they can make enough machines and men alike to be competitive they can at least contest your superiority.

          • passingby

            major.rod, here’s the problem – your scoreboard numbers are not real. There are occasions when US pilots dominate but only against small, weak countries like Iraq, Libya, and South American banana republics. There is nothing new about fudging casualty stats – the US military has been doing that since the Civil War. You just can’t trust those numbers.

          • passingby

            major.rod, you got all the facts wrong – the cream of Japan’s crop wasn’t shot down by American pilots, and the US lost the majority of air combats in Vietnam. In fact, US pilots were ordered to avoid dogfights after a series of heavy losses. Instead they would run upon encounter and re-engage only if they determined that enemy pilots were inexperienced in over-pursuing without due consideration of fuel. Even in the Korean War, some US veteran pilots got floored by Chinese pilots with less than 50 flying hours. Remember China didn’t have a real air force back then. In both wars, the US lost more aircraft than all the opponents combined times 2 or 3. The US enjoyed superiority in quantity and quality of aircraft, but not in actual combat results. Understandably, the US military fudged numbers of aircraft losses for propaganda purposes. Just like it did on numbers of troops killed in action.

          • Thinking_ExUSAF

            I think that these days, thanks to the fall of the wall, we know a bit more about the Russian involvement, particularly in Korea. There, the N. Koreans did in fact have a hard time with the F-86s, but the Russian pilots were at least an even match in their MiG-15s. It all comes down to experience and skill, not racial origins.

            Fighter aces get to be aces largely by preying on “nuggets” , no matter what aircraft they happen to be flying or what roundel is on the wings.

    • blight

      We can’t say much about how the PLAGAF trains their helicopter pilots. When they start doing more overseas stuff like peacekeeping, they will pick up valuable on-the-job combat experience without the risks of nation-state warfare. Perhaps we’ll see them soon, especially around Somalia.

  • blight

    That said, the shaping is reminiscent of the Comanche.

  • Guest

    Not bad. I dig the all black paint job.

    @ All the dismissive comments: NONE of us can really judge the quality of modern PLA tech because NONE of use have every had first hand experience with it. But I would wager that a nation that has build maglev trains and has a successful manned and unmanned space program is probably more than capable of making a decent helicopter.

    • Trimaran

      With technology stolen from the Germans yes..

      • blight

        Thought they were still using Siemens maglevs. The espionage hasn’t begun yet?

        Then again, they are building a Shanghai-Hanzhou maglev…so we’ll see.

    • voyager2k

      One must remember the Chinese Military has zero, nada, zilch, combat experience, basically a military for “Show.” Remember back to when the US feared the MIG until Victor Belinko flew one to Japan. Once we studied it we realized it was not the technical marvel we thought it was. Let’s wait until we see what this toy can do. Also remember the Chinese have had high speed rail accidents, killing people, due to incompetence, bad planning and more. The Chinese admitted they could not match the Japanese record of no deaths in over 40 years of high speed rail operations. The Chinese have a long way to go to match other countries.

    • Ted

      Wreście ktoś coś mądrego napisał o Chinach . Dziękuję Ted,

  • DougieR

    Is NATO still assigning reporting names for Chinese aircraft? Because this one should be the Z-19 “Pufferfish”.

    • blight

      Didn’t think anything from the PRC has reporting names, beyond Russian items with Russian reporting names.

  • -dp

    “…The Z-9 series are licence-built versions of the Dauphin…”

    At least they are license-built and not straight ripped.

  • Ryan

    So, no gun….?

    • grnich

      Some info here:

      It can be armed with the HJ-8A wire-guided ATGMs, or 57mm/90mm rocket pods, or 23mm cannons, or TY-90 IR-guided AAMs.

      • blight

        So that means it’ll use gunpods, so you’re trading wing hardpoints to gain a gun?

        • TTe

          From it’s size that obviously be kinda scout/light attack. Comanche wasn’t intended to replace Apache too,right?

  • Bob

    Looks more like a Eurocopter Tiger in the front with a Dauphin tail boom with the ducted fan.

  • Jacob

    Whatever happened to the Z-10? (Then again maybe I shouldn’t use Battlefield 2 as an expectation for how China’s military will look.)

  • Riceball

    It may not look like much but it is a start and doesn’t look too bad for a first effort at an indigenous attack helo. My guess is that the Chinese are being conservative with their design and taking baby steps, sort of like with their carrier. I’m sure that in another 5 – 10 years we’ll see another design come out that will look much more like what come to expect in an attack helo and will almost certainly be much more capable too.

    • Dan Gao

      Z-10 is still on. It’s in early production and service I believe. The Chinese have been very secretive about it, though, so reliable information is scarce (unless you are inclined to believe pro- or anti- China fanboys on YouTube)

      • Dan Gao

        Damn it, why are my posts appearing in doubles? That’ll teach me to post on an iPhone…

  • Benjamin

    The AH-1 is a successful attack helicopter design and it like the Z-19 was based upon a transport helicopter. There is no reason that the Z-19 will not be a successful design

    • JackBlack

      and Denel AH-2 Rooivalk

  • tribulationtime

    OK but….Where is the Carrier?

  • nary

    World, meet the real Superpower nation…

    • Belesari

      LOL yea. Lets check…
      Funding: Devaluing its currency to the dollar and huge amounts of basic slave labor, basicly funded by US debt, HUGE civil unrest and debt pilling up.
      Space pro: Basicly US rocket technology (thanks bill Clinton). Still in the process of stealing the rest.
      Defense: Gathering ability but over all still problems with massive corruption and old equipment. Oh yea and most of it is still bought or stolen from other countries.

      Its funny. This new super power seems to be alot like any other….it just has over a billion people living in it.

      BTW: alot of china’s engineers, scientist are trained at US schools so…….

      • tiger

        Meanwhile US kids would rather major in beer drinking, than sit through a Statics & dynamics class.

      • PeterFoster

        Easy there chubby… you should talk, seeing that your fine, fine fighting force is no match for camel jockeys out of the Middle East… Pathetic is the word for you Yanks these days, isn’t it?

    • blight

      In what context?

      China is the world’s factory, just as Britain and America were. It will be a superpower soon, but it isn’t one yet.

      • tiger

        In historical context, they have EQUALED the Industrial revolution of the UK & USA is just 40 years. From Nixon’s visit in 1972, they have gone to first world status.

        • tiger – #1 economy, not yet. #1 military, not close. Man on the moon? No (we’ve been there a half dozen times). Aircraft carriers? One they are trying to figure out how it works (we have 11).

          China is on track. It’s not there yet…

          • justsaying

            Yeah, I don’t think Apollo ever made it to the moon, much less out of low earth orbit. Man has made it to the moon, but only through black projects that will never be revealed to the unwashed masses.

  • Jay

    HMMMM…. That tail rotor look really familiar… Almost like the one from the Black Hawk that went down in the Osama bin Laden raid in Pakistan. Coincidence? I think not!!!

  • Lance

    Both the Z-9 and this newer Z-19 looks like China took most of the Euro-copters Tiger attack helicopter design into this bird. This looks like s simple new upgraded to the Z-9. But not horribly looking. A AH-64D+ could kick its but though ;).

  • RCDC

    They might sell it for pennies on the dollar….

  • Sam

    is there anything they cant copy or steal? the first time i saw the pic it kinda reminded me of a compressed Commanche

    • tiger

      It’s not a copy & they stole nothing not available.

  • STemplar

    Should work fine for suppressing Tibetan and Islamic protestors in Chinese western provinces.

  • TLAM Strike

    Dear God! It looks like a Huey Cobra mated with a HH-65 Dolphin!

    The Horror!!

    NOTE: No cannon! interesting….

  • I think look like comanche copter, btw congrat for China the real superpower.

    • from a response to tiger above – #1 economy, not yet. #1 military, not close. Man on the moon? No (we’ve been there a half dozen times). Aircraft carriers? One they are trying to figure out how it works (we have 11).

      China is on track. It’s not there yet…

      Read more:

    • blight

      So when south africa finishes their Rooivalk they will become a “real superpower’ as well?

  • William C.

    Looks to be more for armed reconnaissance than an actual attack helicopter, at least with that light loadout.

    • tiger

      They are thinking econobx market. If AH-64 is BMW, this is Hyundai.

      • blight

        You’d think that econobox would look a little more basic, and not be so oriented against hard targets. Then again, not all weapons buyers buy out of pragmatism and will buy to impress (like Gaddafi’s FN2000’s)

        • tiger

          There is a market out there. Thank about it. Very few nations have Ah-64’s or Cobras. Buying USA has a high price & political strings. Russians? Eurocopter? Again Pricey options. So it fills a niche….

    • Dan Gao

      And here lies the problem with 90% of the discussions about the Chinese military, one side makes it seem like China will rule the world in a matter of days, the other scoffs at anything China does like they are a complete joke

  • Jonathan H.

    chinese are at it again, copying off military equipments from other nations in the world with no original designs on their own when it comes to modern western weapons system.

    • West is Dead

      F35 looks like the british harriet jet? or Should i’d said, its a association-copy??

  • George

    This one looks like what the Iranians did, sticking a double tail at the end of a F-5 and calling it a new design. With all the extra weight up in front, this thing will probably be a flying coffin, unless they put in a state-of-the-art FBW system

  • blight

    From strategypage (

    “European firms are particularly eager to drop the embargo, and some, like France, are ignoring it. This is done by disregarding the installation of dual-use Western equipment in weapons systems. The latest example is the use of French Arriel 2C engines (built under license in China), for the Z-9WE combat helicopter.
    The Arriel 2C engine is only supposed to be used for Chinese civilian helicopters, and is used for over 300 of them. Earlier models of the Z-9 use Chinese designed and built WZ8A engines. These were not satisfactory. So now China is advertising the use of Arriel 2C engines in its Z-9WE combat helicopters.

    This use of Western engines in military helicopters is not new. Five years ago China installed Canadian PT6C-67C engines in its Z-10 helicopter gunship. China shrugs off foreign protests at this, and, partly because of this, European military equipment manufacturers are pushing for a lifting of the embargo.

    The Z-9 is a license built version of the French AS 365N Dauphin. It’s a four ton chopper with a two ton payload. China has built over 200 of the Z-9s and many have been armed (with twin 23mm cannon, torpedoes, anti-tank missiles and air-to-air missiles.)”

    • passingby

      The French are smarter than the Americans in this respect. Make a boatload of money when your technology is still worth something and sought after. Else in 5-10 years, the Chinese will come up with their own engines anyways.

  • mindmedic

    Yeah it’s ugly and too small and copied and lower tech. But! if China goes with it… one million helicopters make a powerful weapon.

  • StrumPanzer

    I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard for them to mount a 20mm cannon on the undercarriage.

  • UAVgeek

    Hence the continuing service of the Mosin-Nagant series of rifles- Killing whoever you want, since 1891.

  • passingby

    Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear: I don’t have a precise A-A record for F-105, other than that it had a poor loss-exchange-ratio against the MiGs, which is true.

    USAF claims that a total of around 340 F-105s were lost in enemy action (incl. AAA, SAMs, air combats) in the Vietnam War. Plus maybe another 60 or so in accidents.

    Vietnamese/Chinese/Soviet figures were higher.

    You may verify the figures online.

  • Flynn

    yup, they should stick to Kung Fu for defense and modern weapons systems.

  • Da_Bunny

    Probably not enough useful payload to mount a gun after you add up two pilots, weapons, fuel, guidance systems, countermeasures….it’s called a light gunship for a reason.

  • Redcoat

    As a solid AH is already fielded by the PLAAF, the Z 10, why would the Chinese want a light role AH? Carries less ordanace and will be less armoured. Besides the obvious priority units stationed near Beijing, Does any one have an idea which units would recieve these platforms?