An export variant of theHarbin Z-19 reconnaissance and attack helicopter made its first flight at the headquarters of China's Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation (HAMC) on May 18. Designated Z-19E, it has few differences from from the original Z-19, although the systems and avionics can be customized and suited for customers' specifications. Chinese state media noted that the Z-19 is suitable for low-intensity and rapid-response operations.
The Z-19 made its first, brief appearance at the 2012 Airshow China. Based on the Z-9 utility helicopter, the Z-19 retains its Fenestron tailboom; twin armored seats that can withstand hits from a 12mm gun; self-sealing fuel tanks; and shock-absorbing gear to retain the integrity of the nose in the event of a crash.
The maximum takeoff weight of the Z-19 is 4,500 kg (9,900 pounds) and it has a range of 700 km (380 nautical miles). It is smaller and lighter than the Z-10 attack helicopter built at Changhe. Many observers believe the Z-19 and the Z-10 work as a hunter-killer partnership, with the smaller and quieter Z-19 scouting for enemy armor. The Z-19 has four underwing pylons, although lacking a chin-mounted gun like the Z-10.
Since 2014 the Z-19 has been seen with an indigenous mast mounted active millimeter wave radar, akin to the AH-64 Apache’s AN/APG-78 Longbow radar. This radar may have entered Chinese service, but it was not shown on the Z-19E variant.
The unveiling of the Z-19E marks another stage of China’s military helicopter production, now moving away from mass production exclusively for the People’s Liberation Army and into modifying and meeting specific customers’ requirements for export.
It was reported that a number of foreign countries have shown interest in the Z-19E. China has become a new supplier of high-end weaponry to countries that are sanctioned by Western arms restrictions.