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Is Saudi Arabia Set to Become the Newest User of Chinese-Made Armed Helicopter Z-10ME?

According to reports, negotiations with Changhe Aircraft Industries Corp (CAIC), the developer of the armed helicopter Z-10ME, also involve the possibility of Saudi Arabia's defense industry development agency itself deploying the Chinese-made armed helicopter in the oil-producing country.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) –Saudi Arabia’s Defense Industry Development Agency, General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI), Reportedly Begins Negotiations with Chinese Company Developing Armed Helicopter Z-10ME, Cited as Competitor to US-Made AH-64 “Apache” Helicopter

According to reports by the Tactical Report portal, discussions with Changhe Aircraft Industries Corp (CAIC), the developer of the Z-10ME armed helicopter, include the possibility of GAMI deploying the Chinese armed helicopter in Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, negotiations between the two parties also involve matters concerning technology transfer between China and Saudi Arabia, a relationship recently identified as a close ally of the United States in the Gulf region.

Saudi Arabia is now among the largest purchasers of Chinese-made weapons in the Gulf region.

This recent development further confirms the increasingly close defense relationship and cooperation between GAMI, established in 2017 as Saudi Arabia’s government agency responsible for overseeing, monitoring, and developing the defense industry in the country.

It aims to ensure that by the year 2030, over 50 percent of the defense equipment used by the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces is domestically manufactured.

Z-10ME

Last February, China’s Z-10ME export variant of the attack helicopter, a competitor to the US-made AH-64D Apache, made its international debut at the Singapore Air Show.

The Chinese-made attack helicopter has been widely used by the country’s army aviation units in large-scale exercises near Taiwan and India in the past.

Reports suggest that there is a variant of the Z-10 helicopter used by China’s army aviation units equipped with engines jointly developed with the French engine maker, Safran Helicopter Engines.

The jointly developed engine with the French company enables the Z-10 attack helicopter to operate at high altitudes, especially in mountainous areas along the China-India border.

However, it cannot be confirmed whether the export variant of the Chinese attack helicopter is equipped with engines developed jointly with the French company.

Meanwhile, there are also reports stating that the Chinese attack helicopter is equipped with a Milimetre Wave Radar (MVR), similar to that installed on the AH-64D Apache attack helicopter made by the United States.

Z-10ME
Z-10ME

 

Apart from Pakistan, it is uncertain which other countries in the world are using the Z-10ME attack helicopter.

Last year, Pakistan was reported to have begun receiving the Chinese-made Z-10ME attack helicopters after its efforts to acquire the T129 ATAK attack helicopters made by Turkey were blocked by the United States.

The delivery of Chinese attack helicopters to Pakistan only strengthens the military relations between the South Asian country and Beijing.

In recent years, Pakistan has emerged as one of the main users of China-made weaponry systems, from fighter jets to warships.

Prior to acquiring the Chinese Z-10ME helicopters, Islamabad had signed a contract with Turkey in 2018 to acquire 20 units of the ATAK attack helicopters developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) valued at US$1.5 billion (RM6.75 billion).

Although the T129 ATAK attack helicopter is built by a Turkish company, its engine is supplied by the United States, thereby giving Washington the power to veto its sale to Pakistan.

Z-10

The LHTEC T800-4A engine used by the ATAK helicopter is developed by American company Honeywell and British engine manufacturer Roll-Royce.

The Chinese Z-10ME attack helicopter, developed by Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC), weighs six tons and is equipped with various armaments to carry out missions and operations in any weather condition, day or night.

It is equipped with air-to-ground and air-to-air guided missiles. — DSA

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