The Chinese Z-19E armed light helicopter is expected to start batch production in the foreseeable future probably for an unknown international customer.
According to its developer the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the Z-19E helicopter has under gone professional scrutiny regarding its performance tests and passed verifications, demonstrating the model is capable of entering the production phase, AVIC said in a statement quoted by various Chinese media.
AVIC generally does not announce export orders but the fact that the Z-19E, a dedicated export oriented model of the Z-19 helicopter, has been confirmed to start batch production is an indication that a foreign buyer may have placed an order.
With the only competition in the light attack/reconnaissance helicopters coming from expensive Western machines made by Boeing, Sikorsky in the US besides AgustaWestland and Airbus helicopters in Europe, China sees a good market for the Z-19E whose shipping price could be less than half of a comparable Western chopper.
Though not confirmed talks are said to be on with several countries in Africa, Middle East and parts of Asia to sell its military choppers. China is known to be offering low-interest credit and discounts to push its military-ware in the international market.
In the past, China has sold three Z-10E helicopters to Pakistan.
The export-oriented Z-19E helicopter model was designed and manufactured by AVIC Harbin Aircraft Industry Group which is based in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
The Z-19E helicopter also called ‘Black Whirlwind’ is an armed reconnaissance/attack helicopter. It made a successful maiden flight in May last year. With a maximum takeoff weight of 4.25 tonnes, it has apparent advantages in large effective payloads, cruising speed, ceiling and range.
Its comparatively small size, good maneuverability and good performance in multiple missions give the Z-19E helicopter a broad market prospect, according to AVIC.
The Z-19E has had a comparatively quick concept-to-production journey. Its mock-up was displayed at the Airshow China event in Zhuhai during November 2016 and in about two years, the chopper has been developed, tested and is ready for batch production.