Tag Archives: Z-9

Meet the new Dauphin

Airbus Helicopters is working hard to move the Aérospatiale and Eurocopter legacy it absorbed into something new. The thrive towards the future will mean the end of the fairly popular Dauphin helicopter, in use with many rescue and government services worldwide. Or at least the end of the AS365 and EC155 Dauphins we know.

On 13 June 2015 the new Airbus Helicopters H160 made its first flight in Marignane in France, after successful ground testing in May. The flight – in so-called ground effect – lasted for 40 minutes and was mainly aimed to check the basic behavior of the chopper. During the second flight on 17 June the chopper reached 130 knots, close to the projected cruising speed of 160 knots (184 mph or 296 km/h).

Airbus Helicopters is aiming to put the H160 into service in 2018. Therefore two more prototypes will see the light of day, the first did a power-up test on 12 June, as well as two ground test airframes.

The Aérospatiale SA365/AS365 Dauphin has been in production ever since its first flight in 1975. More than 1,000 machines have been built, with one of the more recent deliveries to the Lithuanian Air Force.

Harbin Z-9
The Dauphin type is also manufactured under license as the Z-9 and derivatives by Harbin in China. Apart from use as a civilian platform and by the People’s Liberation Air Force (42+ aircraft) and Navy (34 aircraft), the Z-9 flies with the armed forces of Bolivia (12 delivered, 10 operational after two incidents), Cambodia (9), Cameroon (4 ordered, at least 2 operational), Ghana (4 ordered), Kenya (6), Laos (4), Mali (2 delivered), Mauritania (2 ordered), Namibia (2 delivered, 1 crashed), Pakistan (12) and Zambia (3 operational, 1 ordered).

The Harbin Z-9WE production model attack helicopter. Four similar aircraft have been obtained by Cambodia (Image © CATIC)

US Coast Guard
The US Coast Guard fielded the type as the HH-65 Dolphin and later MH-65 for search-and-rescue duties since the end of the seventies. A hundred machines are still in the inventory with the the type being upgraded to MH-65E standard. The M-version has weaponry and newer communication systems. The newest E-type has an so-called “all-glass” cockpit with newer navigation capabilities. The first will be introduced into the fleet in 2017.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by Airbus Helicopters
Featured image (top): First flight of the H160 in June 2015 (Image © Thierry Rostan / Airbus Helicopters)

Bolivia fields new Harbin army choppers

A Malinese Air Force Harbin Z9 leaves Bamoko Airport in 2005 (Image © Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Wood / USN)
The new Bolivian Army Harbin H425s are somewhat similar to this Malinese Air Force Harbin Z-9
(Image © Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Wood / USN)

They look like Aérospatiale (Airbus Helicopters) Dauphins, but in fact they are the Chinese licence-built copy of it. Six of these Harbin Z-9s, in the new H425 personnel transport version, have made it to the Cochabamba region of Bolivia mid July. The arrival of choppers ordered in 2011 was confirmed by the Bolivian Ministry of Defence.

According to Airheadsfly.com sources the six H425s will be based at the Chapacura Bolivan Army airfield of Chimore, 75 miles (120 km) northeast of Jorge Wilderman IAP that services the regional capital of Cochabamba. Chapacura has been run down a bit, but a new hangar is said to have been erected there to accommodate the new Harbins.

All Bolivian Army helicopters fly with Compañía de Aviacion del Ejército No. 1 (CAE-1), with the Harbins serving within Grupo de Caballeria Aérea I which also has a Robinson R44 light/training helicopter since 2013. The Army’s CAE-1 also has a flight made up by the Beech C90 and Fokker F27-200 at the Bolivian capital of La Paz.

Bolivia is slowly modernising its armed forces, with Airbus Helicopters engaged in supplying six Super Pumas and four EC145s.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

Cambodian Z-9 chopper creates possibilities

The Harbin Z-9WE production model attack helicopter. Four similar aircraft have been obtained by Cambodia (Image ©  CATIC)
The Harbin Z-9WE production model attack helicopter. Four similar aircraft have been obtained by Cambodia (Image © CATIC)

China completed its delivery of 12 Harbin Z-9 helicopters to the Royal Cambodian Air Force this month. The delivery might be part of a promising future for the Chinese version of the Aérospatiale (Eurocopter) AS365 Dauphin.

Between April and November this year the Royal Cambodian Air Force received six general purpose Z-9s, two Z-9s for VIP transport and four attack versions. The deal is worth US$ 195 million and is part of a strengthening of the Cambodian armed forces, which suffered big time from the regime of mad man Pol Pot and Vietnamese invasions of the past. Apart from the Z-9s the Asian country also purchased 100 tanks and 40 armoured personnel carriers, all Soviet made, this year.

The Harbin Z-9s were delivered through the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC). The deal might open up motivation among other countries not alligned to Europe or France to buy the Chinese Z-9 instead of the more expensive Eurocopter version. Since first flight in 1981, about 200 Harbin Z-9s have been built – mostly for the Chinese military.

Source: CATIC/RCamAF with additional reporting by AIRheads’ Marcel Burger