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Chinese Medium Helicopter [CMH]

The Chinese Medium Helicopter [CMH] was a Government-funded program for civil and military applications in the 5.5 tonne class. Thought to have been initiated in about 1994, with 602 and 608 Institutes reported to be taking part in airframe design, with Western avionics planned. Eurocopter France became partner in the program on 15 May 1997 with a US$70 million to US$80 million, nine-year contract to assist in developing the rotor system. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed 22 March 1999 by Agusta (now AgustaWestland) with a contract for approximately US$30 million for transmission system and vibration analysis. Initially a prototype was scheduled to fly in late 2003, but of courwse this did not happen.

Pratt & Whitney agreed in 2000-2001 to sell 10 of PT6C-67E engines to China for the Chinese Medium Helicopter [CMH] program of the Chinese Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI), the chief designer of China's helicopters. include the5.5 ton WZ-10 dedicated attack helicopter, and a 6 ton utility helicopter based on the same drivetrain. The Chinese Medium Helicopter [CMH] program was developing a common drive train for the 5.5 ton WZ-10 attack helicopter and the 6 ton Z-15 / EC175 utility helicopter.

On 28 February 2007 Pratt & Whitney Canada Corp.'s (P&WC) new generation PT6C-67E engine was confirmed to power the EC175/Z15 medium-sized helicopter, being developed by Eurocopter and Harbin Aviation Industry Group, a subsidiary of China's AVIC II corporation. The PT6C-67E is the latest derivative of the world-renowned PT6 turboprop/turboshaft family, recognized for its outstanding reliability and durability. Already installed on the Agusta Westland AW139 helicopter and Bell/Agusta Aerospace BA609 Tiltrotor, the PT6C-67 family of engines is helping to redefine the medium helicopter category. This engine is equipped with a dual-channel full-authority digital electronic control (FADEC) system, which offers reduced pilot workload along with increased dispatch reliability."

China secretly installed the engines in their Z-10 attack helicopters, without notifying the Canadian side. In 2007 Pratt and Whitney Canada claimed they thought they were assisting the "civilian" version of this program. The US government criticed the Canadian Pratt & Whitney Company [a United Technologies Corp. company] for its sale of PT6C-67C helicopter engines to China, which ended up in military helicopters. But the blame should not be placed on Pratt & Whitney. Pratt & Whitney's business transaction was not the violation of international law; rather it was the Chinese side that mis-represented the end use of the engines.

The US and the European Union European Union (EU) responded to the PLA massacre of citizens in Tiananmen Square in 1989 with arms embargos that are still in place. Despite support "in principle" for the 1998 EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, Canada has not participated in the EU embargo, nor is China on Canada's Area Control List of states to which Canadian military exports are banned. The circumstances of the Z-10 engine transfer are not new. PWC has exported aero-engines to power Chinese-manufactured air-craft with military use for decades and deliveries continue today.

PWC knew from the start of the Z-10 project in 2000 that the Chinese were developing an attack helicopter and that supplying it with U.S.-origin components would be illegal. When the Chinese claimed that a civil version of the helicopter would be developed in parallel, PWC marketing personnel expressed skepticism internally about the “sudden appearance” of the civil program, the timing of which they questioned as “real or imagined.” PWC nevertheless saw an opening for PWC “to insist on exclusivity in [the] civil version of this helicopter” and stated that the Chinese would “no longer make reference to the military program.” PWC failed to notify UTC or HSC about the attack helicopter until years later and purposely turned a blind eye to the helicopter’s military application.

"In 2000, we were chosen as a supplier for a dual-use Chinese Medium Helicopter platform, which was to have both military and civil variants using a common rotor and transmission," said Jean-Daniel Hamelin, a spokesman for P&WC in Québec. "Pratt & Whitney Canada's PT6C-67C engine was selected to power the civil variant while a Chinese indigenous engine was to power the military variant.... The Chinese engine encountered delays and our engines were used during the development of the common platform."

HSC in the United States had believed it was providing its software to PWC for a civilian helicopter in China, based on claims from PWC. By early 2004, HSC learned there might be an export problem and stopped working on the Z-10 project. UTC also began to ask PWC about the exports to China for the Z-10. Regardless, PWC on its own modified the software and continued to export it to China through June 2005. PWC anticipated that its work on the Z-10 military attack helicopter in China would open the door to a far more lucrative civilian helicopter market in China, which according to PWC estimates, was potentially worth as much as $2 billion to PWC.

These companies failed to disclose to the U.S. government the illegal exports to China for several years and only did so after an investor group queried UTC in early 2006 about whether PWC’s role in China’s Z-10 attack helicopter might violate U.S. laws. The companies then made an initial disclosure to the State Department in July 2006, with follow-up submissions in August and September 2006. The 2006 disclosures contained numerous false statements. Among other things, the companies falsely asserted that they were unaware until 2003 or 2004 that the Z-10 program involved a military helicopter. In fact, by the time of the disclosures, all three companies were aware that PWC officials knew at the project’s inception in 2000 that the Z-10 program involved an attack helicopter.

PWC exported controlled U.S. technology to China, knowing it would be used in the development of a military attack helicopter in violation of the U.S. arms embargo with China. PWC took what it described internally as a ‘calculated risk,’ because it wanted to become the exclusive supplier for a civil helicopter market in China with projected revenues of up to two billion dollars.

While both versions of the aircraft were originally expected to be powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67E turboshafts, in early 2010, French engine-maker Turbomeca confirmed that it will collaborate with AVIC to develop a new turboshaft based on the Turbomeca Ardiden engine for the Chinese Z-15. AVIC will develop the compressor and the engine installation in Harbin, and Turbomeca will develop the hot section and controls. The new engine, identified as the WZ60, is said to offer 15 percent better fuel economy. This Chinese engine would avoid potential U.S. embargoes on the Pratt & Whitney engine once the Z-15 enters Chinese military service.

Pratt Canada planned to deliver the first engines for flight testing to Eurocopter in 2009. In March 2011 Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) delivered its first PT6C-67E production engine for the Eurocopter EC175 medium-size utility helicopter for multi-role civilian and parapublic applications. The first flight of the second EC175 prototype helicopter took place in December 2010, and certification of both the engine and helicopter was slated for the second half of 2011. Entry into service was planned for 2012.

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