Chinese ‘Thunderbolt’ helicopters may replace American Cobras in Pakistan

Published: April 3, 2015


In line with a January 2015 contract, Pakistan has received three Chinese Z-10 “Thunderbolt” attack helicopters to replace its American Cobra helicopter.

The helicopters having anti-tank and air-to-air mission capabilities are currently at a Pakistani Army base in Qasim/Dhamial, undergoing testing, maintenance training and modifications to be used in Operation Khyber I and Zarb-e-Azb against militants near the Pak-Afghan border.

The Z-10 would be used, as have the AH-1s, to provide close air support to Pakistani troops, as well as to conduct search and kill mission of high value terrorist targets, and battlefield survey.


The Z-10, like other modern attack helicopters, carries a range of missiles and rockets such as the HJ-10 anti-tank missile, as well as its 23mm chain gun, which can spit out about 600 8oz shells a minute. It is built by the Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation, with design input from Russia’s Kamov Design Bureau.

The Z-10’s primary sensor is the round turret on the bottom half of its nose, which carries a variety of cameras, including night vision, electro-optical and infrared imaging.

With its heavy armament of a 23mm cannon, and over a tonne of guided weapons including HJ-10 anti-tank missiles, 57mm rockets and TY-90 air-to-air missiles, the Z-10 is China’s frontline attack helicopter.

It also has a laser target designator, which could allow it to provide guidance support for missiles fired by the Burraq armed drones.

Reports suggest technicians are working to quickly familiarise themselves with these new helicopters by installing rotor blades and other parts for flight, and then combat.

The Z-10 will supplement Pakistan’s arsenal of 51 aging American built AH-1 “Cobra” attack helicopters, and a successful trail by combat would make the Z-10 quite attractive to other foreign buyers.

The article originally appeared on Business Insider. 

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Reader Comments (12)

  • raider
    Apr 3, 2015 - 7:30PM

    it is self-satisfaction and motive may of being cheaper technology, USA technology is matchlessRecommend

  • Troll Hunter
    Apr 3, 2015 - 8:44PM

    Good move….Technology transfer and Chinese assistance should have been categorically utilized in the first place instead of availing torturing US aid and assistance that is so full of blackmailing and torment. Recommend

  • Troll Hunter
    Apr 3, 2015 - 8:56PM

    @raider: Upgrade your Internet knowledge mate. We are not talking about USB flash drives or cheap plastic toys that you buy for your kids on their birthdays. China is now world’s factory and they manufacture everything for American and European companies. Don’t want enter in a banter with you here, so do your basic search first. Recommend

  • Grace
    Apr 3, 2015 - 8:56PM

    @raider: As long as the helicopters do the job, who cares whether slighter more advanced but much more expensive American helicopters are necessary. At the end of the day, the pilot and and the strategic applications matter. In this the air force excels which is why older Pakistani plans were able to down greater numbers of more modern Indian planes in past air conflicts.Recommend

  • Khan
    Apr 3, 2015 - 9:00PM

    Good move…. Please continue on a path to de-link our military dependence on Western bulls.Recommend

  • Sohaib
    Apr 3, 2015 - 9:35PM

    AH-64 Apache is matchless, no doubt. But USA does not sell those to Pakistan. So Z-10 is obviously much better than these old hounds (AH-1) we currently have.Recommend

  • Adnan Siddiqi
    Apr 3, 2015 - 11:03PM

    Looks like a Eurocopter Tiger and Agusta A129 Mangusta. Trust that it’s performance also matches some of its contemporaries. Nevertheless a good acquisition. AH-1W Cobras are not slated for retirement anytime soon though. Pakistan has spent $65 million upgrading them in addition to purchasing some used birds from the Jordanians. Cobras wouldn’t be replaced until PA decides to buy MI-35 from Russia. Recommend

  • Sohraab
    Apr 4, 2015 - 9:41AM

    @Troll Hunter: Agree with you 100%. China have come a long way and now they can match & compete with any western technology. China is fast turning into a Global hub for Technological Research, innovations & Development. Recommend

  • zara
    Apr 4, 2015 - 5:21PM

    One day we will grow out of this mindset that usa is matchless and only she has best technology.
    Even some of usa defence equipment spares parts used are manufactured in china, iphones vital components are made in china or taiwan due to low costs. If i am wrong plz correct me.
    Hi time paksitan gets rid of western dependence in defence technology and works with china in r and d. And develop their own technologies.Recommend

  • Zohaib
    Jun 27, 2015 - 8:34PM

    Great news. China’s Z-10 is latest technology. With the inclusion of Z-10 and Mi-35 Pak Army can rip through Taliban in no time.Recommend

  • Aug 19, 2015 - 3:55PM

    Very nice… I like the Chinese technology.
    It’s a good decision to get Chinese gunships.. .sure it will increase our capabilities and security.Recommend

  • Aug 19, 2015 - 3:57PM

    We don’t need to worry about Apaches.
    US is also providing us 15 latest cobra vipers…. Cobra Viber’s, z-10 a good combination .. BTW MI-35 will play an important role in counter insurgency.Recommend

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