A Chinese army attack helicopter crashed on 4 March 2013, hospitalising both its crew members but without causing fatalities.
Operated by the People's Liberation Army Air Force, the CAIC Z-10 helicopter gunship came down in a farmer's field in Shaanxi province, central China. Little information on the crash's circumstances have been released but Chinese media reports indicate that it left controlled flight and descended almost vertically prior to impact.
Images subsequently published intimate that the accident wrote off the helicopter, while eyewitnesses have described how the pilots involved were extracted from the Z-10's two-place cockpit and rapidly relocated to a nearby medical facility.
CAIC Z-10 Attack Helicopter
The CAIC Z-10 attack helicopter equips only the PLAAF. First flown in 2003, it entered service seven years later, with an estimated 60 examples built to date. The Z-10 attack helicopter primarily engages in anti-tank missions but is also capable of air-to-air engagements. Armament includes ADK10 and HJ-8 anti-tank missiles, TY-90 air-to-air missiles and a 30mm nose-mounted cannon.
Roughly the Chinese equivalent of the US-built AH-64 Apache, the Z-10 has a top speed of more than 300 kilometres per hour and an 800+ kilometre range. Like the Apache and other modern-day battlefield helicopter designs, the type has a slim fuselage, minimising its cross-section when viewed on enemy radar screens.
Chinese Helicopter Crash
According to data published by IHS Jane's, it is used by five or more PLAAF aviation regiments: the 1st, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th. The Chinese helicopter crash site's location would suggest that this example served with the 1st Army Aviation Regiment, based in Xinxiang.
The People's Liberation Army Air Force is one element of China's PLA - the largest military forces in the world. Active since the late 1940s, the air force is equipped with a multitude of military aircraft old and new, totalling some 2,500 airframes. On the rotary front, besides the WZ-10, it also flies the Harbin Z-19 and Changhe Z-11 helicopters in the attack role.
CAIC Z-10 image copyright Peng Chen - courtesy Wikimedia Commons