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China keen to sell indigenous combat helicopter to India

world Updated: Jul 24, 2012 21:03 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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China would be keen to sell an indigenously developed combat helicopter to India, a senior officer of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) aviation regiment said on Tuesday.

Z-9WZ, designed and manufactured in China, was part of a show organised for foreign and local media that included displays and maneuvers by the helicopters on Tuesday.

According to the elite aviation wing, it is the first armed reconnaissance helicopter developed in China and is equipped with aircraft machine guns, cannons, rockets and missiles to attack air and ground targets or to provide fire support to ground troops.

The display was organised at the headquarters of the 4th regiment of PLA’s aviation wing located at Tongzhou in the far east of Beijing.

Speaking to reporters during the air show, Group Captain Liu Hao said the biggest change in the last two decades was that “we can totally depend on our own to make airplanes.”

Liu said: “This type of plane is developed and produced by our own country. We can guarantee the training even under extreme weather. We don’t need to import materials from other countries in making the planes. We totally depend on ourselves.”

On asked whether India – which has its own regiments of army aviation -- Colonel Yu Guo Yi said: “We are happy to sell these helicopters to India.”

The PLA has at least seven army aviation wings spread across the country; each part of the seven military regions China is divided into. The 4th regiment is considered among the elite as it is directly under the command of the General Staff Headquarters, not under Beijing’s military command.

Like in India, the aviation wing at Tongzhou – set up in 1988 and yet to take part in a war – has its peacetime duties cut out – emergency rescue and disaster relief, security operations at major events like the 2008 Olympics and support scientific research programmes.

"Our military's aim is to protect peace. The training exercises we carry out are normal and in line with what we always do," Zhang Zhilin, the commander of the regiment, told reporters.

His unit, which operates Harbin Z-9 attack helicopters, a licensed-built version of the Eurocopter Dauphin II, Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters, also flies China's astronauts back to base when they return to Earth.

Officers were non-committal about the development of China’s first modern military attack helicopter, the Z-10.

Agencies, quoting western experts, said the Z-10, first delivered to China's People's Liberation Army in 2009, is developing into one of the world's most modern and capable combat helicopters.