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New China-made attack helicopter makes maiden flight

BEIJING — The China-made attack helicopter Z-19E has made its maiden flight from a Harbin airport on Thursday, marking a major step in China’s entry into the global market for attack helicopters.

Also called the “Black Whirlwind,” the Z-19E, which took the maiden flight from the Harbin airport, is the first export-oriented attack helicopter developed by the state-owned AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry Group.

“The helicopter is the latest narrow-body tandem-seat armed chopper. It is also the country’s first export-oriented helicopter made especially for attack purposes,” state news agency Xinhua said.

Deputy chief designer Li Shengwei said the helicopter is equipped with safety features to improve the pilot’s survival rate.

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“The Z-19E and Z-9 are similar in many respects,” Li said.

In terms of manoeuvrability and functions, the Z-19E meets international standards and its operating interface is in English, he said.

“The Z-19E has strong market potential as some of its components are compatible with other countries’ military systems,” Song Zhongping, a military expert who served in the PLA Rocket Force, told the state-run Global Times.

Song also noted that the helicopter would fare well in the global market. It is aimed at countries which require light military helicopters with medium-level attack power, he said.