Zhi-9W Attack Helicopter
Harbin Aircraft Manufacture Corporation (HAMC) began to develop an attack helicopter based on the Zhi-9 army utility helicopter in the mid-1980s. The attack helicopter, designated Zhi-9W (Z-9W), features a pair of external weapon pylon and a roof-mounted optical sight for target searching and tracking in daylight. The helicopter was mainly intended for anti-armour warfare role, carrying four HJ-8 wire-guided anti-tank missiles. Alternatively, the helicopter could carry guided rocket pods or machine gun pods for close air support role. A total of 30~40 examples in the basic Z-9W variant have been built and these helicopters are serving with the 8th Helicopter Regiment organic to the 38th Group Army.
In 2005, HAMC introduced an improved “night attack variant”, also known as Z-9WA. The most notable improvement was an under-nose observing and tracking unit housing a low-light TV and an infrared search and track (IRST), allowing the helicopter to operate in all-weather, day/night conditions. Other improvements included redesigned weapon pylons similar to those of the French AS 565 Panther, a self-defence electronic warfare suite, a new cockpit with multi-function displays (MFD), and possibly two more powerful Turbomeca Arriel 2C turboshaft engines. A second variant designated Z-9WE is in service with the PLA Air Force for security and counter-terrorism role.
The construction of the Z-9W is similar to that of the Z-9B army utility helicopter. The helicopter is of light aluminium alloy construction with glass fibre reinforced plastic and Nomex for added strength and for weight reduction. The helicopter is lightly armoured, with no apparent IR reduction features. The teardrop-shaped body features a tapered boom to the tail fin, a rounded nose and stepped-up cockpit. Two weapon pylons are attached to the fuselage behind the pilot seats.
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.
The helicopter’s cockpit 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.
The improved Z-9WA is fitted with an electronic countermeasures suite consisting of a missile approach warning system and chaff/flare decoy dispensers. The system can detect infrared signature of incoming missiles, alert the pilot and automatically trigger the chaff/flare dispensers to counter the threat.
Early basic variant Z-9W has an optical sight unit mounted on the roof of the cockpit directly above the weapon operator. The unit is used to search for targets and guide the HJ-8 missile in a semi-automatic command line of sight (SACLOS) mode. The weapon operator aims at the target through X12 sight of TV goniometry, and keeps the cross hairs of the sight on the target until the missile hits the target.
The improved Z-9WA has an under-nose observing and tracking unit developed by Luoyang Electro-Optics Technology Development Centre (EOTDC). The unit comprises a low-light TV and an infrared search and track (IRST), which enables the missile to engage target in all-weather, day/night conditions.
The helicopter has a pair of weapon pylons to carry 4 (or 8 on the Z-9WA) HJ-8 wire-guided anti-tank missiles. Alternatively, the helicopter can carry two 12.7mm machine gun pods, or two 57mm or 90mm unguided rocket pods, or four TY-90 IR-homing air-to-air missiles (6km range).
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.
Last update: 2 January 2009