The Harbin Z-8 helicopter, derived from the French Aerospatiale SA321 "Super Frelon," serves a crucial role in China's military operations. Initially obtained from France in the 1970s, these helicopters were adapted for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and search and rescue (SAR) missions. This transition marked China's first utilization of helicopters on mobile warships, expanding their naval capabilities significantly. The Z-8, produced both domestically and through French industry collaboration, has proven its versatility by performing various roles, including ASW exercises, submarine and surface ship threat response with torpedoes, SAR operations, and amphibious assault participation.
Featuring a similar structure and function to its French predecessor, the Z-8 is equipped with ASW radar and is adept at submarine hunting. Its diverse capabilities encompass search and rescue with specialized equipment, such as Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and powerful lights, along with the ability to lift personnel and carry out medical evacuations. Moreover, the Z-8's adaptability is demonstrated by its engagement in humanitarian efforts, firefighting, and sea-based resupply tasks. As a successor, the Harbin "Z-20" medium transport helicopter is on the horizon, incorporating cutting-edge features like a native fly-by-wire control system and a local engine, promising to further enhance China's helicopter capabilities.
Year of Service: 1976
Manufacturer: Aerospatiale - France/Harbin; Changhe Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAIC) - China
Special Mission: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Can search, track and attack enemy underwater elements using special equipment and weapons on board.
Special Mission: Ship Defense
Equipped to find, track, and attack enemy surface elements through visual acquisition, radar support, and ship-based weapons.
Special mission: MEDEVAC
Extraction of wounded combat or civilian elements using specialized shipboard equipment and available internal volume or external carrying capacity.
Special Mission: Search and Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and evacuate personnel from potentially hazardous or dangerous areas, such as downed pilots at sea.
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, moving passengers and cargo over long distances.
Used in the VIP (Very Important Person) passenger role, usually with above-average amenities and luxury as standard.
Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR), reconnaissance
Monitor ground targets/target areas to assess surrounding threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Serve special forces/special operations forces and missions.
Length: 75.6 feet (23.05m)
Width/span: 62.0 feet (18.90m)
Height: 21.8 feet (6.65m)
Cured weight: 15,135 lbs (6,865 kg)
MTOW: 28,660 lbs (13,000 kg)
Wgt Difference: +13,525 lbs (+6,135 kg)
Installed: 3 x Turbomeca Turmu IIIC turboshaft engines, each producing 1,570 hp, driving a 6-blade main rotor and a 5-blade tail rotor.
Maximum speed: 171 km/h (275 km/h | 148 knots)
Maximum: 10,335 feet (3,150 m | 2 km)
Area: 634 km (1,020 km | 1,889 nautical miles)
Rate of climb: 1,315 ft/min (401 m/min)
Unarmed civilian model. The anti-submarine model is approved to carry aerial torpedoes for hunting/hunting ship missions.
Z-8A - Transport version developed for the Chinese Army; entered service in February 1999; limited production.
Z-8S - Search and Rescue (SAR) model; equipped with hoist, FLIR tower and searchlight for maritime rescue operations.
Z-8K - PLAAF improved SAR platform.
Z-8KA - PLAAF improved SAR platform.
Z-8JH - PLAN maritime model with surface search radar, dive sonar and aerial torpedo support.
AC313 - Civil market development of the
Z-8 with a capacity of 27 passengers.