The WZ9 Turboshaft engine, with a power of 1000 kilowatts, has been in volume production since 2009 for the WZ-10 helicopter series. The CAIC WZ-10 is powered by two WZ-9 turboshaft engines, which allows the WZ-10 to reach the maximum speed of 350 km/h. The original Z-10 prototype equipped with twin Pratt & Whitney PT6C-76C turboshaft engines (rated @ 1,250kW each) was rumored to be underpowered. The new Z-10A features a redesigned nose and reduced weight, with twin 90 degree upwarded engine exhaust ports. The new Z-10A version is powered by the less powerful WZ-9 engines (~1,000kW), and had its weight reduced by providing less armor protection and a smaller weapon load.
In 2000, Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) was chosen as a supplier for a dual-use Chinese Medium Helicopter platform, which has both military and civil variants using a common rotor and transmission. 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. Pratt & Whitney Canada sought and received Canadian government approval to provide 10 engines for the development of such platform, and these engines were delivered between 2001 and 2002. The Chinese engine encountered delays and Pratt & Whitney Canada engines were used during the development of the common platform.
At least three type of turboshaft engines were tested for the WZ-10, all foreign built. The Russian Klimov VK-2500 turboshaft engine on the Mi-17s sold to China is among these, along with the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C. The Ukrainian Motor-Sich TV3-117 that powers Mi-28 was also tested, and Ukraine is helping China develop its own indigenous turboshaft engine.
The domestic WZ-9) was designed by the 602 Research Institute, with Ukrainian and Russian assistance. The transmission system was developed with the help of Agusta Westland. Early claims that the WZ9 was a Chinese version of the MTR390 proved erroneous. Chinese government technical documents classify the VK-2500, TV3-117 and PT6 as third generation turboshaft engines, a category to which the WZ9 belongs, while the MTR390 is classified as a fourth generation engine. Of the five engines tested for the WZ-10, the WZ9 was the least powerful. But as a domestic engine, it enjoyed the advantages of lowest operational cost [because there are no foreign built components] and freedom from the political issues that could affect the purchase of vital parts.
The WZ9 was scheduled to enter full operational service by the end of 2009.
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