Changhe Z-11WB attack and reconnaissance helicopter to enter PLA service

China's domestically developed 2-ton-class Z-11WB attack/reconnaissance helicopter is expected to enter service with the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and play a key role in ground attack, reconnaissance and antiterrorism.

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Changhe Z 11WB attack and reconnaissance helicopter to enter PLA service 1

AVIC's Z-11WB attack/reconnaissance helicopter displayed at Airshow China 2016 (Picture source: Air Recognition)

A Z-11WB armed helicopter was seen painted with the insignia of the PLA on a production line in video footage released by Weihutang, a China Central Television program on military affairs, last week, Global Times reports. This means this type of helicopter will likely enter PLA service soon, Weihutang said.

Having made its maiden flight in September 2015, the Z-11WB is a light helicopter capable of carrying armaments including anti-tank missiles, rocket launchers, machine guns and drones on pylons on each side of the fuselage, the report said, noting that 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 report said.

The Changhe Z-11 is a light utility helicopter developed by Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC). According to the Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation website, it is claimed to be the first indigenously-designed helicopter in China. However, it is largely based on the Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil. The Z-11 project started in 1989 and the first flight was made in Dec 1994. In Oct 2000, test flights of Z-11 were completed. The chief designer of Z-11 is Wu Ximing, who is also the chief designer of three other Chinese helicopters, including the WZ-10. Under Mr. Wu, the Z-11 became the first Chinese helicopter to be completely designed using CAD/CAM techniques.

The Z-11WB is the attack/reconnaissance variant with a new EO ball, redesigned cockpit, SW-6 UAV, and pylons for weapons. Its roles include ground support, attack, battlefield reconnaissance, command, counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, counter-smuggling, and other tasks. The Z-11WB's 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, Weihutang said.