People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Z-10 attack helicopters recently conducted day and night live-fire drills off China’s Fujian coast, employing new air-launched rocket launchers to destroy naval targets. The exercises highlight the PLA’s expanding helicopter ops capacity.
Honing Island Attack Capabilities
Z-10 rotorcraft from an aviation brigade attached to the PLA’s 73rd Group Army carried out the maritime exercises. Located in the Eastern Theater Command, the brigade would play a vital role in potential Taiwan contingency missions.
The drills involved striking simulated targets on islands and reefs. Coordinating strikes across multiple helicopter formations, the exercises focused on refining real-world operational readiness.
Utilizing New Airborne Rocket Launcher
Notably, the training marked the first public footage of Z-10s carrying the PLA’s new 19-tube helicopter rocket launcher introduced this September.
With nearly double the capacity of preceding variants, the next-gen launcher provides invaluable additional aerial firepower and demonstrated its tactical value during the flight training.
Validating Modular Attack Model
The exercises also enabled aviation units to validate new modular attack approaches tailored for island and maritime targets.
Rather than traditional models, the drills organized assault helicopter forces into specialized groups covering intelligence, command and control, and precision fires.
Mirroring Operational Tempo
By including day and night phases, the training mirrored the high intensity pace of modern conflicts. Pilots employed various tactical evasions before prosecuting targets.
Night attacks utilized aviation night vision goggles and other systems to strike in low light conditions, critical for sustaining pressure on adversaries.
Emphasizing Joint Integration
While centered on attack helicopters, the exercises also incorporated PLA Navy Z-20 utility helicopters. This underscores the PLA’s emphasis on integrated joint operations across services.
Marrying attack helicopter strikes with naval platforms creates a formidable threat to enemy maritime targets and coastal defenses.
Deterring Taiwan Independence Efforts
Though not explicitly acknowledged, the maritime strike training continues the PLA’s military signaling aimed at deterring provocations from Taiwanese independence proponents.
Displaying ever-advanced strike and blockade capabilities serves China’s sovereignty interests without resorting to direct force.
The helicopter rocket drills ultimately demonstrate the PLA’s diligent efforts to evolve tactics and technologies for potential island operations. The exercises translate capability demands into live training using new indigenous weapon systems.