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Z-18F ASW variant

China is making every effort to strengthen its anti-submarine capabilities to counter the powerful underwater forces of the United States. Among them, the Zhi-18F helicopter is the most typical. Against the potential, the United States must not be complacent and proud. In recent years, China has made naval aviation a priority for future development. The number of naval helicopters has increased rapidly, and new anti-submarine helicopters represented by Zhi-18F have emerged. Chinese military publications say that the Z-18F surface search radar is more prominent and can spot submarine periscopes and masts within a range of at least 40 to 70 kilometers.

A new anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) was undergoing trials and testing in late 2014, according to news reports and Chinese military websites. The aircraft, believed to be designated Z-18F, has been developed from the Changhe Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) Z-8, itself a derivative of the long-serving French SA-321 Super Frelon.

The submarine threat facing China is severe. Not only does the U.S. Navy have the world’s most powerful nuclear submarine force, but the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s technologically advanced and very new conventional submarine forces cannot be ignored. Even the navies of the small countries surrounding the South China Sea in recent years The pressure on the Chinese Navy's anti-submarine warfare is increasing day by day without hesitating to purchase a variety of new submarines with huge sums of money.

The Zhi-9 is small in size, unable to carry both submarine search equipment and anti-submarine weapons, and has a very limited radius of activity; the larger Ka-28 is limited by the landing gear layout and it is difficult to mount anti-submarine weapons. Only the internal bomb bay can be used, and the performance of the airborne detection equipment is relatively backward, and the combat capability in the face of increasingly quiet imaginary enemy submarines is also limited. These two types of aircraft can be used in the current stage of China's naval destroyer single-ship and small formation anti-submarine warfare is still sufficient to protect itself, but to undertake a large-scale and high-strength aircraft carrier formation aviation anti-submarine warfare mission is obviously insufficient.

Therefore, when the Zhi-20 general-purpose helicopter technology, which is more suitable for destroyers and frigates, is far from mature, the Zhi-18 platform derived from the development of the Zhi-8 series-the Zhi-8F helicopter has become the most pragmatic choice. Based on the basic structure and aerodynamic layout of the Z-8F, the aircraft replaced the composite main rotor and tail rotor, which reduced the empty weight; improved the engine and transmission system, and improved the flight performance.

Although the Z-18 platform also has the disadvantages of being bulky and squeezing space, for aircraft carriers with ample space, this shortcoming can be tolerated, and its huge size and load capacity bring ample equipment layout space. It is undoubtedly a good thing for the domestic aviation industry, which lacks professional anti-submarine helicopter design experience. The military editor of Sina once boarded the US-made SH-60 anti-submarine helicopter of the Singapore Air Force. He has a deep understanding of the compactness of the various submarine search and anti-submarine equipment on this helicopter. The overall layout coordination is by no means an easy task. . It is believed that through the development experience of the Zhi-18F anti-submarine helicopter, China will avoid many detours when developing the anti-submarine model of the Zhi-20 in the future.

It is reported that the Zhi-18F can carry 4 anti-submarine torpedoes, which is a huge improvement compared to the previous Zhi-8. There are two cantilevered external pylons on the left and right sides of the middle of the fuselage, while most western anti-submarine helicopters have only two external pylons. The aircraft can easily carry 4 Yu-7K anti-submarine torpedoes. This mine is based on the American MK46 torpedo imitation and improved. It is propelled by OTTO fuel. It has a range of 14 kilometers at a speed of 40 knots and a launch weight of 235 kg. Warhead It weighs 45 kilograms. In addition, it can carry 4 Eagle Strike-9 air-to-ship missiles. This bomb is a domestic model of the TL-10B air-to-ship missile. It has a flying speed of M0.85, a range of 18 kilometers, a launch weight of only 105kg, and a warhead of 30. The kilogram-weight semi-armor-piercing warhead is very suitable for attacking small ships.

Compared with the SH-60 helicopters of the US Navy, the Zhi-18F can carry more sonar buoys. The European EH-101 helicopter can be compared with the Zhi-18F in range and performance. The US media said that the "Liaoning Ship" aircraft carrier plans to carry six Z-18F, and China's future Type 055 cruiser will carry two Z-18F. Reports believe that this also explains from the side why the Type 055 cruiser has such a large displacement.

The Zhi-18F has a search radar installed under the nose. According to public data from the air show, the detection range of the ZLC-1 radar of the Zhi-9C can reach 150 kilometers. The detection range of stealth medium-sized surface ships and missile boats is about 100 kilometers, and the detection range of sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, submarine snorkels, and periscopes is about 50 kilometers. The large search radar antenna arranged on the Z-18F nose is obviously larger and heavier, and its search distance is bound to be longer. It can not only be used to detect submarines navigating in a snorkel state, but also can be used to search for small targets on the surface. Guide the Eagle-9 air-to-ship missile to launch an over-the-horizon attack.

A short arm extends from the right side of the Z-18F nose, and a photoelectric sensor is installed below it, which is also the standard configuration of modern multi-purpose shipborne helicopters. Along the wide belly of the straight -18F, the designers arranged multiple sets of antenna equipment.

The Z-18F ASW variant is equipped with a dipping sonar and reports suggest that it can carry up to 32 sonobuoys and 4 lightweight torpedoes such as the Yu-7. It has a prominent chin-mounted surface search radar and it is probable that the aircraft is fitted with a datalink like the Ka-28s in service with the PLA Navy, enabling it to operate in third-party targeting mode for long-range anti-ship cruise missiles launched from frigate or destroyer escorts.

None of the current PLAN destroyers or frigates will be able to support the 13.8-tonne maximum take-off weight of the Z-18, so in the near term it will be limited to operating at sea from the carrier Liaoning and the three Type 071 amphibious landing platform docks. The anticipated construction of Type 081 landing platform helicopter ships and Type 055 destroyers would increase the number of platforms that are capable of embarking the aircraft.

The Zhi-18F replaced the high-power engine on the basis of the original straight-8F, replaced the main rotor and tail rotor with composite materials, improved the transmission and avionics system, and changed the original ship bottom to a flat bottom design. Public information shows that the Zhi-18F has 4 rows and 8 rows of sonar buoy launch ports, which can carry a total of 32 sonar buoys, which exceeds the 25 US SH-60 helicopters.

Beijing's major push to develop its aerial anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities could spell the end of the US' undersea superiority, expert on China's security policy Lyle Goldstein stated. Goldstein focused on two new helicopters with ASW components: the antisubmarine version of the Z-8 rotorcraft dubbed the Z-18F and the Z-20 which is often compared to the US-made Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk.

The Changhe Z-18F and the Harbin Z-20 "are in the pipeline and may well even enjoy prioritized development," the analyst noted, adding that "fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft make for highly potent ASW platforms because of their speed, range, search rate and near invulnerability to submarine-launched weapons."

A total of six Z-18Fs are rumored to be delivered to China's first aircraft carrier Liaoning. The Type 055 destroyers currently in development for the Chinese Navy are expected to be fitted with a pair of these helicopters. "Even if the Z-18F can shoulder much of the ASW burden for China's emerging carrier task groups, there still arises a definite need for a sturdy all-purpose helicopter than can fly off the decks of China's expanding fleet of modern frigates and medium-sized destroyers (Type 052 variants)," Goldstein observed in an article titled "A Frightening Thought: China Erodes America's Submarine Advantage."

Due to its long detection range, the Zhi-18F can also serve as a "poor man's version" of the Zhi-18J early warning helicopter to a certain extent, assisting in the detection of incoming air targets, especially anti-ship missiles flying sea-skimming. A short arm stretched out on the outside of the right part of the straight -18F nose,



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Page last modified: 08-12-2021 15:58:57 ZULU