Z-8/Z-18 CHINA’S OWN ‘SUPER HORNET’

EYE ON THE EAST

The PLA Army Aviation’s Z-8 is an important but little-known helicopter type that evolved from a license-manufactured French design. Long hampered by poor build quality and lack of performance, it’s now one of the service’s most modern and capable medium transport helicopters.

BY ANDREAS RUPPRECHT

AIR WARFARE BRIEFINGS FROM THE ASIA-PACIFIC

A PLA infantry squad races to board a Z-8G of the Xinxiangbased 161st Air Assault Brigade. The G-model can carry 27 fully armed troops and provides the PLA Army with a significant medium/heavy transport capability. All images via Chinese internet
One of the few available images of the latest widebody Z-8L variant. The prominent fuselage sponsons probably contain additional fuel.

FOR MANY YEARS the largest helicopter in People’s Liberation Army (PLA) service, the Z-8 was designed by the No 602 Institute/Changhe Aircraft Industrial Corporation (CHAIC) as a derivative of the French SA321Ja Super Frelon (meaning ‘Super Hornet’), 13 of which were acquired by Beijing in the late 1970s.

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