A U.S. Apache attack helicopter appears in China. Did they clone it?

Images have surfaced on the Chinese Internet of what seems to be an actual AH-64D Apache or a real-size copy of the world’s most famous attack chopper.

The helicopter, on a truck, seems to be in the process of being moved even if it is at least strange that it is not hidden below a protective covering, as happened for other mysterious choppers spotted on the move in China.

It’s not easy to guess how Beijing put their hands on the helicopter. It could be one of the U.S. Army Apaches downed or crash landed in Iraq, that was later fixed and exported in China.

A famous episode is the one of the AH-64 shot down intact during the 2003 attack on Karbala, during which the two US pilots were captured and shown on television along with the helicopter: still, Pentagon later stated the Apache had been destroyed with an airstrike the day following the capture.

Or, it may be a perfect copy of the Boeing AH-64: China has already shown its ability to create clones of the American most advanced weapons systems.

Image via Chinadefense blog. H/T to Ugo Crisponi for the heads-up

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


    • It was a pet project done by a high ranking army officer. It’s not really that close to the real thing if you compare them. It’s been sitting in their aviation museum for about 13 years.

  1. the front looks a little odd, also it doesnt look like it has attachments for the wings, the engines look a little weird and also the back seat window looks a little small

    • Agreed. Also, the cheek fairings are too short (on a normal Apache, they extend beyond the front of the engine nacelles). This particular helicopter is also missing its tailwheel – and the tail rotor blades are too far apart.

  2. i’m calling BS, if it were a real one, they would not transport it out in the open like that.

      • That’s such a load of bs. China can’t exist without us and our love of cheap horribly built junk. On the other hand we could live without them. Who do you think pays for all of chinas toys? Its me and you and anyone else who buys ANYTHING made in China.

          • Americans will use any excuse from the actual reality that would save them. Blind arrogance is the only culture America has. More like “arrogant ignorance”. To think this used to be the only super power in the World, just a few years ago. A few years more, and there will be nothing left of it.

        • China does not need us. They have 1.5 BILLION consumers within their borders. Now that they have kind of figured out capitalism, its game over.

          • Chinese doesn’t just build junks…even Iphones and our PCs at home were build by them…virtually almost everything.

          • China is totally screwed. Their entire economy is a gigantic construction ponzi scheme financed by a level of financial fraud that makes Madoff look honest. To wit: 70% of their GDP is the “i” (investment) input; 60% of their GDP is construction alone. They have entire cities, designed for millions of people, that sit completely empty. They literally have a copy of Paris – and it’s totally empty. They build another ~30 of these cities a year, and every year they MUST build more than the year before or their GDP drops and the tens of millions of young men with no women to get married to are unemployed and start rioting.

            Read “Red Capitalism” by Walter and Howie. Do a youtube search on China and Jim Chanos (famous hedge fund manager who specializes in short selling, made his career by calling out Enron when no one else would). The coming Chinese implosion is going to make the USSR collapse look like a joke.

        • China is now GM largest customer & so is Boeing besides US.
          Apple, Dell, HP, Caterpillar, Cummins, Starbucks, Kentucky and a host of major US Corporation depends on the growing Chinese market.
          Now, even your Tourism Dept is trying to attract more Chinese Tourists who are the biggest spenders of all.
          China is now US 3rd largest export market. Soon it will eclipse Mexico to be No. 2. For US, China offer the fastest growing market, growing 294% from 2002 to 2012. Your future job might depend on China..
          Do some home work before you shoot from your mouth.

          • I do believe he is right. The US is just started a renaissance; China is starting a massive economic collapse; you seem to forget, they have screwed themselves over royally, because in about forty years, when those young men start growing old and can’r work anymore, they’ll have nothing but foreigners able to fill the huge vacancy in their labor market, since none of them were allowed to make baby Chinese.

    • ….and why not? All US aircraft have transponders to guide missiles in hidden within. The Chinese with take that helicopter to pieces and replicate and improve it.

      • Because they would not do such a reverse engineering out in the open.
        What use is a reverse engineering if the enemy knows you have one and reverse engineered it. It only motivates the enemy to replace that technology quicker at which point you loose the advantage.

        When the Allies cracked the Enigma code,did they announce it to the Germans “hey, btw, we cracked your codes!” no. it was deemed top secret, to the point where they sometimes did not act on intelligence captures with those codes so the Germans wouldn’t know that Enigma was cracked.

        If you do something like this, you cover it up, you keep it in the dark. To ensure you get the most benefit of whatever it is you stole and reverse engineered.

        • My point is that all high value weapons like aircraft sold by the US have transponders so there is no point in hiding them. China would have bought the Apache from a third country like Israel. You do know Israel sells American technology through the back door?

          Further still, it really is not relevant that the US reversed engineered the Apache because it will be reproduced and used widely and not hidden.

          How much did it cost the US to develop the Apache? $10 billion, $20 billion? China will probably develop fleets for a few hundred millions.

          • transponders don’t run without batteries
            batteries run out
            batteries can be disconnected and transponders can be turned off.

            It’s not a hollywood homing beacon you know.

            • You can’t switch off these aircraft dead. There are important systems kept on 24/7 and if for some reason all power is removed, the manufacturers will have to switch on and reboot systems.

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