On the outside, the Changhe Z-11 is very similar to Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil.
China’s helicopter industry is making rapid progress to become a global power. Not only in the military field, China also pays great attention to promoting the development of the civil helicopter field to meet the commercial needs.
China is the second largest in the world and one of the fastest growing civil aviation markets in the world. In the next decade, the potential demand for the Chinese market could reach 1,000 helicopters. Industry experts predict that the number of helicopters in China will increase by more than 30% every year over the next decade.
As early as the late 1980s, China began developing the Z-11 light utility helicopter project. The project was implemented by Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation and had its first flight in December 1994. The test flights were then completed in 2000.
The Changhe have claimed that the Z-11 is the first indigenous design helicopter in China. However, there are reports that the development of Z-11 was largely based on Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil. Indeed, on the outside, the machine is very similar to Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil. The helicopter has a three-bladed main rotor, a conventional tail rotor, a horizontal stabilizer, lower and upper vertical stabilisers and a skid-type landing gear.
The cockpit for the pilot is covered by a large windscreen, giving great visibility. The cockpit has two seats placed on either side, the crew can be one or two pilots. Access to the cockpit is through two car-style doors along both sides of the fuselage. The passenger compartment can accommodate 6 people, installed right behind the cockpit.
China’s Z-11 has a fuselage length of 11.24 meters, a width of 1.8 meters and a height of 3.14 meters. Its empty weight is 1,253 kg while the maximum take-off weight is 2,200 kg.
Z-11 is equipped with a single Chinese-made Liming WZ-8 turboshaft engine, developing 680 horsepower.
The helicopter was designed to reach a maximum speed of 258 km/h, a service ceiling of 5,270m, a range of 660 km and continuous endurance of 3.9 hours.
In addition to targeting the civilian market, the Z-11 also has armed versions to meet the requirements of military and paramilitary users. Z-11 can perform battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance, ground attack, and medical evacuation roles.
The armed versions have been equipped with additional wingstubs to mount weapons, it can carry Anti-Tank Guided Missiles, rockets and machine guns. On the CZ11W version, the helicopter is fitted with a targeting sensor turret, and can carry four Chinese HJ-8 antitank missiles.
On the Z-11WB version, a new attack and reconnaissance variant based on the AC-311 with a new EO ball. The cockpit has been redesigned, integrating multi-functional cockpit displays. The highly integrated avionics system aboard the cockpit reduces the workload of pilots.
Z-11WB has additional pylons on either side of the fuselage to carry missiles and bombs. It is capable of carrying a quad launcher for Tian Lei 2 air-to-ground missiles, is intended to engage small land and naval platforms, as well as personnel.
Other weapons that can be equipped include the Norinco 40mm LG3 automatic grenade launcher, 7.62mm CS/LM12 six-barrelled mini-gun and a SW-6 air-launched tactical UAV.
Its roles include ground support, assault, battlefield reconnaissance, command, counter-terrorism, anti-drug, anti-smuggling and other missions.
China’s helicopter industry is gearing up to become a global power. Military experts said that the introduction of the Z-11 filled the gap of China’s native helicopter division, made a significant breakthrough in the history of developing Chinese helicopters.
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