New chop­per

AVIC at­tack he­li­copter flies at Tian­jin expo

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI in Tian­jin zhaolei@chi­

State-owned Avi­a­tion In­dus­try Corp of China showed off its new­est light-duty at­tack he­li­copter with a flight per­for­mance on Fri­day, aim­ing to at­tract buy­ers from de­vel­op­ing coun­tries at the four-day Fourth China He­li­copter Expo, which opened on Thurs­day in Tian­jin.

The Z-11WB, de­vel­oped and made by AVIC Changhe Air­craft In­dus­try in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi prov­ince, is a mil­i­ta­rized ver­sion of the AC311A mul­ti­role civil he­li­copter and can con­duct re­con­nais­sance and ground as­sault op­er­a­tions. It has a max­i­mum take­off weight of 2,250 kilo­grams, max­i­mum cruis­ing speed of 240 km/h, flight ceil­ing of 6,000 me­ters and op­er­a­tional range of 680 km, ac­cord­ing to AVIC Changhe.

The air­craft can be armed with 21 types of weapons, in­clud­ing ma­chine guns, rock­ets, pre­ci­sion-guided bombs, anti-tank mis­siles, air-to-air mis­siles. It can carry and launch four small, elec­tri­cally pow­ered SW-6 drones that can per­form re­con­nais­sance, sig­nal re­lay and mis­sile guid­ance tasks, ac­cord­ing to AVIC pub­lic­ity ma­te­rial.

Ob­servers have said that the Z-11WB has likely be­come the only mil­i­tary he­li­copter in the global mar­ket that can launch drones.

Pro­pelled by a do­mes­ti­cally made WZ-8 tur­boshaft en­gine, the Z-11WB is op­er­ated by a crew of two, a pi­lot and a weapons con­troller. In ad­di­tion to fight­ing roles, it can be used to train air­men and to trans­port troops — its rear cabin can hold four peo­ple.

The he­li­copter was first flown in Septem­ber 2015 and first shown at the 11th China In­ter­na­tional Avi­a­tion and Aerospace Ex­hi­bi­tion in Zhuhai, Guang­dong prov­ince, in Novem­ber, but it had not flown in pub­lic be­fore the Tian­jin expo.

Wei Songlin, deputy chief de­signer of the Z-11WB, said there are many heavy-duty at­tack he­li­copters avail­able on the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, such as the United States’ Boe­ing AH-64 Apache and Rus­sian Mil Mi-28, but only two light­duty armed mod­els — the US’ Boe­ing AH-6 and Bell OH-58 Kiowa, how­ever the lat­ter has stopped pro­duc­tion.

“Many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries need armed he­li­copters, but they are not able to af­ford and main­tain heavy-duty types. More­over, the US and other West­ern na­tions have a lot of spe­cific re­quire­ments or re­stric­tions when it comes to arms deals, cre­at­ing ob­sta­cles for some buy­ers,” he said. “So our prod­uct has huge po­ten­tial and many op­por­tu­ni­ties on the mar­ket.”

The de­signer said his com­pany re­gards the AH-6 as Z-11WB’s ma­jor com­peti­tor. “How­ever, our he­li­copter has a stronger car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity com­pared with the US model and can use more kinds of weapons,” he said.

In ad­di­tion, the Z-11WB can un­der­take train­ing and trans­porta­tion mis­sions, which its US coun­ter­part is un­able to do, adding to its value, Wei added.


Z-11WB light-duty at­tack he­li­copter makes its pub­lic de­but at the China He­li­copter Expo in Tian­jin on Thurs­day.

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