The Harbin Z-9 is a licensed variant of the French Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, and is manufactured by Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation.
The first Z-9 flew in 1981, and was built in China from components supplied by Aérospatiale as part of a production patent bought on 15 October 1980. On 16 January 1992, the indigenous variant Z-9B, constructed with 70% Chinese-made parts, flew successfully. The flight test was completed in November 1992 and the design was finalized a month later. Z-9B production began in 1993 and entered PLA service in 1994.
The Z-9 is powered by two WZ-8A turboshaft engines, which is a license-built version of Turbomeca Arriel-IC1 engine. Each engine develops a power output of 848 hp. The Z-9W helicopter can fly at a maximum cruise speed of 238km/h, while carrying external weapons. The ferry range with internal auxiliary tank is 1,000km. The helicopter has an endurance of 3.35 hours.
An armed variant has been fielded by the PLA since the early 1990s as the WZ-9 or Z-9W, with pylons fitted for anti-tank missiles. These helicopters lack the maneuverability and survivability of a proper attack helicopter, and merely provide a stopgap during the development of the WZ-10. The latest armed version, the Z-9W, was introduced in 2005 and has night attack capabilities, with an under-nose low-light TV and infra-red observing and tracking unit.