Z-8 Helicopter (Super Frelon) - Development
The Jiangxi Helicopter Factory began the Z-8 development in 1975. A design team of 150 people was formed and chief engineer Li Zaijian was concurrently appointed chief designer. Six large scale meetings for technological coordination and analysis were convened by the MAI and more than 130 units were mobilized to participate in the development programme. The development activities were performed in a fast speed.
With the adjustment of national economy the Z-8 program was suspended and the performance of many activities of the Z-8 program were slowed down accordingly in 1979. To ensure the continuance of the Z-8 program the Jiangxi Helicopter Factory adjusted its products in time and carried out a policy of "supporting the military development programs with the profit earned in civil production" so that the income from the civil product sales could be used to supplement the limited Z-8 program budget.
France agreed to allow China to build the Super Frelon, under the designation of Z-8, in 1981. According to premier Zhao Ziyang's instruction the state of the Z-8 program was positively changed from suspension to immediate performance in June 1984. On September 7 premier Zhao Ziyang visited the Jiangxi Helicopter Factory and watched the final assembly of the Z-8. In October 1984 the MAI appointed Su Min chief director of the Z-8 Program On-site Office and Guo Zehong chief designer and decided that the Helicopter Design and Research Institute to be the unit of chief designer.
On December 11, 1985 a Z-8 slowly lifted off at Lumeng airfield in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. The first Z-8 from Chinese production (Changhe Aircraft Industries Corp. ), it hovered five meters above the ground surface and made 360-degree left and right turns, forward flight, side flight, backward flight and accelerated flight. The first flight ended with a success.
The first Zhiba first flew in December 1985, but the localization rate was less than 50%. Key equipment still depends on imports, including engines, main blades, main hubs, tail hubs, automatic tilt meters, etc. The turboshaft 6 engine was put into mass production only in 1988. By 1994, the localization rate had reached 86%. But for a long time, the production of Zhi-8 is very low, once rumored to produce only one a year. In the 1990's, the Zhi-8A army model was developed. Due to the low output, a large number of Russian-made Mi-171 helicopters of the same level were introduced.
The Z-8A could not meet the requirements of the army and was therefore not used to a large extent. After an interruption - Chinese engineers could not "get a grip on license production" without French help - it was only around 2002 that French production help managed to solve the production problems. By the middle of 2011, 100 Z-8s had already been rolled out of the Chinese manufacturing facilities.
After 2001, China's own military Z-8 was delivered to the military for testing, and it was able to serve in small batches the following year. the navy-type Zhi-8J with folded rotors and tail beams was successfully developed in 2002, which saved space for being carried on ships. Even the Liaoning warship aircraft carrier is also a huge amount of money. The large size of the Zhi-8 cannot be accommodated by destroyers. Therefore, the main carriers of Zhi-8 and Zhi-18 are amphibious assault ships and dock landing ships.
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