Currently the Z-11WB is in mass production for the PLA army. The helicopter made its first flight in 2015 and was first introduced in 2016.
Based on the Changhe Z-11 light utility helicopter, the Z-11WB is built as a light attack and reconnaissance helicopter. In terms of function, it is similar to the American OH-58 Kiowa reconnaissance helicopter. Currently the Z-11WB is in mass production for the PLA army. The helicopter made its first flight in 2015 and was first introduced in 2016.
Z-11WB was developed as an improved version of the AC-311 model, allowing participation in ground operations, enhanced attack capabilities, combat support, command, counterterrorism, etc. The original Z-11, mainly based on the Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil. Indeed, on the surface, the machine is very similar to the 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.
Although the Z-11WB has some modifications, its maximum take-off weight remains the same as its predecessor, about 2.2 tons. The helicopter is operated by a single pilot and can accommodate up to 3 additional passengers. The rear seats can be folded in order to use door-mounted weapons or carry light cargo.
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. On the Z-11WB version, 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.
Compared with the Z-10 attack helicopter, the biggest characteristic of the Z-11WB is that the light chopper can carry multiple fully-armed commandos and send them into special operations. This makes the Z-11WB suitable for missions like ground attack, reconnaissance and antiterrorism.
The small size, high mobility and varied applications means it can become an effective supplement to the PLA’s current helicopters, and together they can form a complete armed helicopter system from 2 ton-class to 10 ton-class. 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.