China received its first 12 or 13 French Navy Aerospatiale SA321 Super Frelon helicopters between 1975 and 1977. Two main versions of the helicopter are available for Anti-Submarine Warfare and Search and Rescue operations. This was China’s first helicopter capable of operating from a warship’s flight deck. China was granted a production licence for the Super Frelon helicopter. It was locally produced as the Z-8. China was also granted a production licence for the Aerospatiale Dauphin (9).
In 1976, preparations for the production of the Super Frelon’s original version at Changhe’s aircraft factory began. The program was ultimately canceled in 1979 due to funding and technical problems. In 1985, the program was reopened and the Chinese prototype flew its first flight that year. The Super Frelon licensed in China is called the Changhe Z-8. It was first put into service in 1989. It was China’s largest helicopter at the time it was introduced. For the Chinese navy and army, a number of variants of the basic Z-8 were made. The helicopter is still in use by the Chinese military. The Z-8 was also produced for civilian purposes.
The Z-8 basic is anti-submarine warfare, a land-based and ship-based search-and-rescue helicopter. ASW versions are equipped with a French HS-12 radar, sonar, and sonobuoy. Under the fuselage is a Whitehead A244S Torpedo. You can equip it with YJ-811 and YJ-883K anti-ship missiles. External pods with guns and unguided rockets are also possible. It can also be used to transport supplies or transport marines.
Pilot and co-pilot seats cockpit.
The Z-8 helicopter is a three-engine helicopter. The Z-8 has two engines that are located close together, and the third behind the main rotor. A Chinese WZ-6 engine is used to power the helicopter, which is a copy from the Turbomeca Turmo. Each engine produces 1511 horsepower. The main rotor is 6-blade. For extended reach, additional fuel tanks can be added to the cab.
The helicopter can operate in severe weather conditions. The naval version is a similar design to a boat, and can land in water in an emergency. Standard airframe is used in the army version.
The large cabin can accommodate up to 27 fully-equipped troops or 15 stretchers. The helicopter’s doors and back ramps allow passengers to enter and exit the helicopter via sliding side doors. The helicopter can transport around 3 tonnes of cargo.
The Z-8A transport version of the Chinese army is the Z-8A. It was designed to transport troops and supplies. According to reports, it flew its first flight in 1995. In 2001, a pair of helicopters was delivered to the Chinese army for evaluation. In 2002, 6 Z-8A helicopters were shipped. These helicopters still have the side buoys and nose radar. The Z-8A was not a popular choice for the Chinese army. This helicopter needed extensive maintenance and was prone to crashing in the air. The Z-8A is not the only variant that the Chinese military seems to prefer, as the Z-8B, K, S and J have had greater success. The Z-18 transport helicopter is being used by the Chinese army, which is the successor of the Z-8.
Another utility- and transport version of the Chinese army is the Z-8B.
Z-8F is the utility model. It can be used for utility, search and rescue and transport missions. It is equipped with a Canadian Pratt & Whitney PT6A/67B tubroshaft motor.
The Z-8K, an upgraded version the Chinese navy used for search-and-rescue. The Z-8F was the inspiration for its design. It is equipped with a FLIR tower, spotlight and hoist, as well as a beacon dispenser. Deliveries began in 2007. According to reports, the Chinese army has purchased dozens Z-8K helicopters.
Another Chinese version of the naval design is the Z-8KA.
The Chinese army uses the Z-8KH.
The Z-8S is an improved version of the naval search-and-rescue. The Z-8S was upgraded with spotlights, avionics and an FLIR turret. The aircraft flew its first flight in 2004.
The Z-8J is an underwater helicopter.
Another variant is the Z-8JA. This helicopter can also land on water in an emergency. This helicopter is currently in service with China’s navy.
Another variant of naval search and rescue is the Z-8JH, which comes equipped with medical evacuation equipment. This variant is currently in service with China’s navy.
The Z-18 is a modified Z-8. The Z-18 is an improved Z-8 design. However, it has a new fuselage and powerful engines. It can carry more payload and has more interior space. It also has better overall performance. The Z-18 was revealed to the public for the first time in 2014. It is currently being manufactured in large quantities. The Z-18 will replace the Z-8 series helicopters.