The showcase includes the WZ-10 helicopters, all of which feature the latest upgrade with upward-facing engine exhausts. This design change isn’t just for aesthetics; it marks a successful and significant evolution in the series. In addition to this upgrade, the WZ-10 also proudly presents a large-caliber rocket pod, a treat for attendees who are keen on military hardware.
A historical challenge for the WZ-10 was its engine upgrade, especially since its design phase saw a supply cut from the Canadian company, Pratt & Whitney. This setback was widely discussed in a CCTV documentary, highlighting the challenges and the interim switch to a domestically produced engine. This substitution, while necessary, resulted in weight balance issues for the WZ-10.
Initially, the WZ-10 had the edge over the “Engine 40,” later recognized as the turboshaft-9 engine. However, due to various external factors, including international politics, the WZ-10 transitioned to the domestic turboshaft-9 for continued development. Over the years, this engine has seen considerable enhancements, improving its reliability. Its robustness not only supports operations in high-altitude areas but also accommodates the weight of larger composite armors.
A recent media release titled “Chasing Dreams” highlighted the capabilities of the WZ-10 post its engine upgrade. It indicated that the helicopter’s climb rate could increase by about 20%, and its acceleration could see improvements of around 10%. This media piece also revealed that, after army verification in April 2023, the said engine would see widespread adoption, bolstering the helicopter’s performance in challenging environments.
All showcased WZ-10 helicopters from the “Feng Lei” team featured the upward-facing exhaust design. Even without the composite armor attachments, one can distinctly notice armor mounting points on the fuselage, hinting at the versatility and the potential upgrades in the future.
Furthermore, a highlight was the WZ-10’s impressive presentation of a 19-tube rocket pod. In terms of firepower, this implies a substantial 170% increase in rocket carrying capacity compared to the previous standard 7-tube pods. Rockets, given their cost-effectiveness and adaptability, have been standard weapons for attack helicopters. And as global conflicts have shown, especially between Russia and Ukraine, the strategic deployment of these rockets from aircraft can offer significant firepower advantage, provided their accuracy is ensured.
In addressing the need for precision, advancements have sought to provide guidance systems for these rockets. For instance, the U.S. adapted their standard “Hydra” 70mm rockets by integrating laser guidance and control modules. This addition transformed these rockets into the APKWS II guided variant, combining range with impressive accuracy.
China, not to be left behind, showcased its mastery over similar rocket guidance technology. Previous exhibitions displayed the GR-5 rocket launcher, designed for the 70mm “Fire Snake-70A” precision-guided aerial rocket. Given the advancements and the current displays, there’s strong speculation that the GR-5 rocket launcher might already be incorporated into the military’s arsenal.