Zhi-9 Utility Helicopter
The Zhi-9 (Z-9) army utility helicopter is a licensed-built version of the Aérospatiale (now Eurocopter) AS 365N Dauphin II. The helicopter has been built by Harbin Aircraft Manufacture Company (HAMC) since the early 1980s. The Z-9 is possibly the most produced helicopter in China, with over 200 machines delivered to both military and civilian customers. The Z-9s in service with the PLA is available in three variants: army utility, naval, and attack.
China signed a contract with the French company Aérospatiale in 1980 for the co-production of its AS 365N Dauphin II helicopter. The helicopter was to be built by the Harbin Aircraft Factory (now HAMC) under the designation Z-9. Under the agreement, Aérospatiale would provide 48 sets of AS 365N kits. The first Chinese assembled AS 365N was completed in 1981. The initial 48 helicopters included 28 examples of the basic variant Z-9, which is equivalent of the AS 365N1, and 20 examples of the Z-9A, which is equivalent of the AS 365N2 with increased portion of Chinese-made parts. All 48 helicopters had been completed by the late 1980s. In 1993, HAMC signed a new contract with Eurocopter to build a further 22 examples of the AS 365N2.
In 1988, HAMC was ordered to develop an ‘indigenised’ Z-9 with further increased portion of Chinese-made parts. In order to achieve this, HAMC experimentally built two Z-9A-100s, which were powered by the Chinese indigenous Wozhou-8A (Turbomeca Arriel-IC1 copy) turboshaft engine. The Z-9B, an ‘indigenised’ variant with 71.9% Chinese-made content, flew successfully on 16 January 1992. The helicopter completed its flight test by November 1992, and was certified for design finalisation in December. Batch production of the Z-9B began in the mid-1990s, with 25 examples ordered by the PLA by 1997, and a further 7 examples in 1998. Over 150 examples of the Z-9B and its follow-on variants are believed to have been delivered to the PLA so far.
HAMC is currently developing an improved variant of the Z-9 known as H410A for the civil aviation market. Powered by two Turbomeca Arriel-II turboshaft engines, the H410A was introduced in 2001. A further improved variant H425 with improved Western avionics and modified structure successfully flew in December 2003. The final variant H450 with enhanced payload is currently under development. Should this variant becomes successful, it may also be adopted by the PLA to replace its early variant Z-9s.
The Z-9 is generally identical to the AS 365N Dauphin. The helicopter is of light aluminium alloy (28%) construction with extensive use of composite materials (59%), such as glass fibre, and Nomex for added strength and for weight reduction. The helicopter has a four-blade main rotor, with two turboshaft engines mounted side by side on top of the cabin with an air intake on side of motor hump and exhausts at the rear of the hump. The teardrop-shaped body features a tapered boom to the tail fin, a rounded nose and stepped-up cockpit.
The tail flats feature swept-back tips forward of the swept-back and tapered fin with a blunt tip. The Z-9B variant features a modified 11-blade Fenestron faired-in tail rotor with wider-chord, all-composite blades instead of 13 all-metal blades as in AS 365N1.
The helicopter has hydraulically-operated retractable tricycle type landing gear. The nose unit is twin-wheeled and retracts rearward. The main units are single-wheeled and retract into wheel troughs in the fuselage. All three units of the land gear are equipped with oleopneumatic shock absorbers.
As a tactical troop transport, the Z-9B has the capacity to transport 10 armed soldiers seated in two rows behind the pilot seats. Some Z-9Bs in the PLA service have the back-row seats removed to accommodate additional equipment for communications relay, artillery direct, and electronic countermeasures roles.
The helicopter can be fitted with a BG-06 radio altimeter, Type 150 single-sideband radio, and KJ-13 autopilot, and can choose the KDF-806 radio compass, KTR-908 radio, and TB-31 intercom as optional.
For search and rescue missions, the helicopter can be fitted with a 250kg-capacity hoist with winch and scoop fitted externally above the starboard side cabin door and a search light.
The electronic countermeasures variant is fitted with an ECM suite consist of a radar warning receiver, a jammer, and chaff and flare decoy dispensers.
The Z-9B is powered by two 550kW (739hp) Turbomeca Arriel-IC1 turboshaft, which is produced by SAEC at Zhuzhou as Wozhou-8A (WZ-8A). The fuel capacity is 1,140 litre, with option for a 400 litre ferry tank.
The HAMC is developing a new variant H410A/425/450 powered by two improved 635kW (851hp) Arriel-II turboshaft engines.
Last update: 2 January 2009