Correction: A previous version of this story mischaracterized Chinese state-owned companies’ participation in foreign air shows. The 2024 Singapore Airshow marks the first time Chinese state-owned companies had a full-scale military aircraft on static display at an air show outside the country.

SINGAPORE — China this week unveiled the export version of the signature attack helicopter by the People’s Liberation Army at the Singapore Airshow here.

Though China has participated in the biennial event in previous years, this marks the first time Chinese state-owned companies had a full-scale military aircraft on static display at an air show outside the country.

China unveiled the Z-10ME at Airshow China 2021; some analysts have since compared it to Boeing’s AH-64 Apache.

The PLA has used the helicopter for military exercises near Taiwan and India. More than 200 Z-10s and its numerous variations are in active service with the PLA, according to the Military Balance 2023 report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank.

The attack helicopter was developed by Changhe Aircraft Industries and brought to the airshow by state-owned China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp. and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

At this year’s Singapore Airshow, the company displayed the export version, known as the Changhe Z-10-ME-02, alongside rocket launchers, GR5 guided rockets and air-to-air missiles CM-502KG and TY-90. Chinese delegates have not granted interviews or scheduled any media briefings about the helicopter.

The helicopter can carry 23mm high-explosive incendiary ammunition and a 280kg drop tank. The aircraft is equipped with a mast-mounted radar, a missile approach warning system, and directional infrared countermeasure systems against heat-seeking (IR) missiles, according to Flight Daily News, the airshow’s magazine.

Previous iterations of the Changhe Z-10 have carried air-to-surface and larger air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder.

Aside from China, the aircraft is being used by the Pakistan military. In 2022, Pakistan Army spokesperson Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar announced government plans to procure Z-10ME attack helicopters to replace a previously signed deal for T129 attack helicopters from Turkey.

While the government has not disclosed the number of helicopters ordered and the price, the Pakistan military reportedly received initial batches of the Z-10ME last year.

Leilani Chavez is an Asia correspondent for Defense News. Her reporting expertise is in East Asian politics, development projects, environmental issues and security.

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