China helicopter training with air-to-air missiles

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese-developed attack helicopter has successfully fired air-to-air missiles for the first time, state media said Monday, in another apparent advance for the domestic arms industry.

The firing took place last week during drills off the coast of the southern province of Guangdong that were the biggest test yet for the army’s aviation wing, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The aircraft were of the WZ-10 model developed by the domestic arms industry primarily for attacking tanks. Xinhua said its missiles successfully intercepted low-altitude targets during the drill, indicating an increased role for the helicopter in countering enemy aircraft.

China has shifted rapidly over the last decade from importing most of its military hardware from Russia to producing it at home, a result of the booming economy, increasing technical sophistication, and annual double-digit percentage increases in the defense budget.

China is now working on two separate stealth fighter programs, and is believed to be building at least two aircraft carriers, along with domestically developed destroyers, cruisers, and nuclear submarines.

However some key items, namely top-performing jet aircraft engines, must still be imported.

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