CAIC WZ-10 - Design - Weaponry - Cannon and Machine Guns

Cannon and Machine Guns

Internal armament consists of a gun mount installed on the chin of the aircraft (likely to be of 30mm calibre). Two stub wings provide attachment points for external ordnance or gun pods. The guns are mounted either in the chain gun form, or in the turret. All guns on the WZ-10 can be used either against ground targets or aerial targets, and can be directly aimed by pilots’ HMS. In the turret form, automatic grenade launcher can also be housed next to the machine gun in the same turret.

Three types of chain-fed autocannons are available for WZ-10, with the first being a 23 mm automatic chain gun indigenously developed by China. Like all other chain guns, this 23 mm gun covers a sector of 130 degrees. The largest caliber of chain gun carried by WZ-10 is a 30 mm automatic gun, a Chinese development of the Russian 2A72 autocannon for aircraft use. One of the primary reasons to adopt the 2A72 30 mm gun for aerial use is its high reliability, and according to Russian claim, the failure rate of 2A72 is nearly zero. Another important reason for developing an aerial version of the 2A72 30 mm gun is to simplify logistics. Older 30 mm guns used on fighter jets such as Shenyang J-6 is not compatible with ground and naval guns of the same caliber, and using the same ammo for air, ground and naval guns with the same caliber would greatly reduce the operational cost.

The most powerful autocannon that can be mounted on the WZ-10 is the Chinese reverse-engineered 25 mm M242 Bushmaster adopted for helicopter use. Originally mounted on the NVH-4 derivative of Type 85 AFV, the Chinese military was thoroughly impressed with its performance and modified the gun for aerial use. According to Chinese claims, the 25 mm M242 Bushmaster is the most accurate among all three autocannons of its kind in use with the Chinese military, in both ground and aerial formats. Furthermore, it is also said to be the most lethal of all, having the greatest penetrating power against armored vehicles. However, this gun is the most complex and thus the most costly, while being the least reliable type of chain-fed gun in use with the military. The relatively low reliability of the 25 mm autocannon also has prevented the ground version form being widely adopted.

Guns for WZ-10 can also be mounted in the turret form, but this is limited to small caliber machine guns. The largest type of machine gun that may be fitted to the WZ-10 turret is a single 14.5 mm gatling gun, while the smaller caliber 12.7 mm or 7.62 mm machine guns may be mounted either in single barrel or twin barrel forms. When armed with these smaller caliber machine guns, the coverage is increased to 180 degrees as opposed to the 130 degrees of larger caliber autocannons.

The turret is flexible enough to incorporate configurations such as a single barrel machine gun and an automatic grenade launcher with calibers ranging from 30 mm to 40 mm, as in the AH-1 Cobra. Grenade launchers are only effective against ground targets, while machine guns may be effectively used on both ground and air targets. The autocannon gun mounting is the primary configuration for production units.

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