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Z-18 transport helicopter

The Z-18 series transport helicopters made by the Changhe Company evolved from the AC-313 helicopters, itself a derivative of the long-serving French SA-321 Super Frelon. The AC-313 has a maximum takeoff weight of 13.8 tons. It can accommodate 27 passengers, with a payload of 5 tons. It is estimated that the Z-18A helicopters may eventually replace the Z-8A helicopters developed by the Changhe Company. The latter, commissioned in the army aviation troops of the PLA in 2002, is an updated version of Z-8 series helicopters, modeled on France SA321 "Super Frelon" helicopter.

Zhi-18 is also known as "Zhi-8 major reform", or Zhi-8F100. The main rotor and tail rotor are changed to composite materials, the transmission system is upgraded, and a new high-power engine is replaced. The avionics system was improved, and the bottom of the ship was changed to a flat bottom, thereby reducing the weight. The Z-18 series transport helicopters developed by China's Changhe Aircraft Manufacturing Company were made public in China’s military media at the end of December 2014, according to a report titled "China tests Z-18A heavy helicopter" on the British website of Jane's Defense Weekly on January 7, 2015.

The Z-18A helicopter was tested on the Tibetan plateau. the Z-18A adopts a large number of advanced composite materials for its rotor and fuselage, which enables it to have a strong plateau flight capability of up to 8000 meters, which effectively solves the problem that mainland-made helicopters cannot take off with heavy weight in plateau environments, and guarantees the PLA's ability to take off. The rapidity of troop deployment on the plateau and the convenience of transportation of supplies.

This type of helicopter will become the second type of helicopter for the army aviation troops of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) to conduct operations in high altitude. The first type of high altitude transport helicopter it used is the "Black Hawk", manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft of the U.S. China purchased 18 "Black Hawk" helicopters in the mid-1980s.

The Z-18 series transport helicopters evolved from the AC-313 helicopters made by the Changhe Company. The AC-313 has a maximum takeoff weight of 13.8 tons. It can accommodate 27 passengers, with a payload of 5 tons. The AC-313 helicopter was tested in 2012 on China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at an altitude above 8,000 meters and the Z-18A transport helicopter has an equally excellent performance in high altitude.

The earliest three types of Z-18 series serve to support offshore operations, including AEW warning helicopters, VIP private planes and ASW anti-submarine helicopters. Z-18A adopts a fuselage shape similar to the above helicopters, combining lightweight composite materials and new glass cockpit. But the Z-18A features a relatively flat nose, equipped with photoelectric detection device, and the main landing gear is not installed with buoys.

Chinese sources speculate that the preliminary task for the Z-18A helicopter is to carry and transport the AH-4 155 mm light artillery system developed by the China North Industries Corporation. The artillery system was exposed in 2012, which is extremely similar to the M777 155 mm artillery system developed by British BAE Systems. The combat load of AH-4 artillery system is only 4 tons, according to the China North Industries Corporation.

It is estimated that the Z-18A helicopters may eventually replace the Z-8A helicopters developed by the Changhe Company. The latter, commissioned in the army aviation troops of the PLA in 2002, is an updated version of Z-8 series helicopters, modeled on France SA321 "Super Frelon" helicopter.

Images show that the Z-18 features a redesigned cockpit and modified hull form, while previous company statements suggest extensive use of composites and titanium in its construction. The reports also state that it is fitted with a new type of engine and composite main rotor blades.

These modifications appear to be in line with the Avicopter AC313 commercial design (originally designated Z-8F-100) that first flew from CAIG's Jingdezhen production facility in 2010. The AC313 is powered by three Pratt & Whitney (P&W) PT6B-67A engines, giving it a max speed around 180 kt, an operating range of 485 n miles, and an internal load capacity of 4 tonnes.

However, the Z-18 military variants are highly unlikely to have P&W engines in view of the fines imposed on P&W for supplying engines and control systems that were subsequently installed in the WZ-10 attack helicopter. Instead it is probable that the Z-18 is fitted with a development of the WZ-6 derivative of the Turbomeca Turmo 3C that powers the Z-8. AVIC (Engines) and Turbomeca (Safran) are jointly developing the Ardiden 3C/WZ16 engine that will power the medium-lift AC352/Z-15 derivative of the EC175.



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Page last modified: 24-01-2022 20:15:04 ZULU