Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Z-11W passes National Qualification for Seeking Buyers

China's Z-11 Armed helicopter (Z-11W), which is a Copy of AS350 Helicopter and jointly produced by Changhe Aircraft Corporation (CAC) and China Helicopter Design and Research Institute, has successfully passed the technological pre-qualification on August 31. The website of COSTIND released this piece of news on September 4.

Z-11W helicopter is a variant of Z-11 2-ton class light Utility Helicopter which is usually believed to be a Chinese "pirate" of French AS350 "écureuil (Squirrel)". Since the Birth of Z-11 in 1994, it has been facing a converging attack from domestic and international Markets.

Actually, PLA army needs light Utility helicopter but not the early inferior Z-11, which can not catch up its original French model born 20 years ago. So Z-11W is modified from an enhanced Z-11MB1 platform powered with ARRIEL 2B1A engine and is equipped with systems for air assaulting, like fire control system, V/UHF frequency-hopping radio and improved VEMD (Vehicle and Engine Multi-function Display) avionics. Besides, CAC once announced that Z-11W armed helicopter can carry 4 HJ-8 anti-tank missile and rocket launching pods.

And in overseas market, Z-11 is still in constraint for its indigenously copy design without any license from Eurocopter. It makes a truth that Z-11's exportation was indeed in embarrassing position for searching steady-going clients.

From 2005, CAC has been contacting foreign countries for Z-11's selling. November 22-23 2005, Argentina Air force 3-member delegation once visited CAC for consulting Z-11's exportation and building localized assembly line.

But resources said that the project was frozen under the pressure from Eurocopter. But CAC did dot abandon this opportunity and recently organized a Z-11MB1 helicopter flight demonstration on June 10 2007 in Argentina for its Air Force.

Photographed by Juan Carlos Cicalesi

And Z-11W's passing qualification showed that CAC is speeding in looking for domestic or international buyers for its Z-11 families. And CAC hope that Z-11W can win PLA army's appreciation to play reconnaissance role like OH-58D for ground forces and attract potential foreign buyers from third-world developing countries.

When Z-11W passed the qualification, resources from Philippine in September says that its Air force will spend 460 million RMB to replace its Vietnam-war-time copters from 8 multi-function helicopters from China. Although the exact model is unclear, but the unit price tells that it is probably Z-9, which is manufactured from HAC (Ha'erbin Aircraft Corporation).

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