The Chinese Z-10 attack helicopter, considered a competitor to the Boeing Apache, has been shown equipped with armor made from graphene, according to a video released by China Central Television (CCTV) last week.
Commenting on the video report, state owned Global Time said that extra armor modules could be seen on the side of the helicopter near the cockpit.
The extra armor shown in the CCTV is likely made of graphene which researchers at the Beijing Institute of Aeronautical Materials have developed for use in armor and bullet-proof vests. It said that graphene is about 200 times stronger than steel, can stretch an extra 20 percent, and weighs only 0.77 gram a cubic meter.
Attack helicopters like the Z-10 often fly low to attack ground targets, and the extra armor can effectively protect vulnerable parts of the helicopter like the cockpit and the fuel tank from small-arms fire.
China is set to unveil its Z-10ME, the export version of the Z-10 chopper at next month’s Airshow China in the southern city of Zhuhai.
The Z-10 helicopter is being touted as China’s answer to the United States’ Apache helicopter and has some resemblance to the popular Boeing-made machine. It is betting big on the export sales of the Z-10 which is estimated to cost a third that of the Apache.