Did China Rip Off the Apache Helicopter?

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With fully integrated avionics, weapons, and communications systems, the AH-64D Apache is one of the most successful and deadly aerial assault platforms America's ever fielded, and the technology that powers it is a closely held secret. Imagine, then, the DoD's surprise when these images of what appears to be an intact AH-64D surfaced over the weekend. In China.

The trio of images first appeared on China Defense Blog but don't explain much. The big question is how—assuming the vehicle pictured isn't just a full-size movie prop or something—the PLA got a hold of the aircraft in the first place. They're certainly not on the approved list of export countries. But as David Cenciotti of The Aviationist points out, "It could be one of the U.S. Army Apaches downed or crash landed in Iraq, that was later fixed and exported in China."


But if even if that is the case, it still doesn't explain why China's military would transport an illicit piece of military hardware uncovered in broad daylight. Even the North Koreans have the good sense to paint some camo on theirs. [China Defense via The Aviationist]