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Harbin Z-19 (Black Whirlwind) (WZ-19)

Reconnaissance / Light-Attack Helicopter

Harbin Z-19 (Black Whirlwind) (WZ-19)

Reconnaissance / Light-Attack Helicopter


The Harbin Z-19 is a heavily modified attack helicopter version of the Harbin Z-9 transport series.
National Flag Graphic
YEAR: 2012
STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation / AVICopter - China

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Harbin Z-19 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 5,181 pounds (2,350 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 9,921 pounds (4,500 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x WZ8A turboshaft engines developing 848 horsepower to four-bladed main rotor system and fenestron tail rotor.
SPEED (MAX): 152 miles-per-hour (245 kilometers-per-hour; 132 knots)
RANGE: 435 miles (700 kilometers; 378 nautical miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,800 feet-per-minute (549 meters-per-minute)


Variable based on mission parameters and set about conventional wing stub pylons:

"Blue Arrow-9" Anti-Tank Guided-Missiles (ATGMs), TY-90 Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs), HJ-8 ATGMs, rocket pods (unguided), cannon pods and gun pods supported.

Series Model Variants
• Z-19 - Base Series Designation
• Z-19E - Export model
• WZ-19 - Alternative designation


Detailing the development and operational history of the Harbin Z-19 (Black Whirlwind) (WZ-19) Reconnaissance / Light-Attack Helicopter.  Entry last updated on 11/15/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
China garnered much experience in the license production of the French-made Eurocopter AS365 "Dauphin" (which it produced as the "Z-9" under the Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation label). Thought eventually turned to an armed variant of the type, keeping the general design largely intact though instituting several notable changes including armament pylons and applicable tracking/engagement equipment. From this was born the "Z-19", a dedicated attack helicopter with "stealth" qualities intended to work in conjunction with upcoming Z-10 attack helicopter units. The Z-19 has entered limited service with Chinese forces as of this writing (2018) and recorded its first-flight in May of 2010. One of the prototypes was lost to an accident sometime in September of 2010 during testing which has delayed development to an extent.

At its core, the Harbin Z-19 comparable in capabilities to current-generation attack helos such as the American Hughes AH-64 "Apache" and the Russian Mil Mi-28 "Havoc" - though more akin in mission scope to the USMC Bell AH-1 "Viper", a highly modernized version of the Vietnam War-era "Cobra" attack platform. As such, it follows conventional wisdom in its design configuration with the two pilots seated in tandem - the primary pilot in the rear elevated cockpit with the weapons officer in the front cockpit. Avionics will feature the latest in Chinese fly-by-wire technology, processing systems and digital functions seen in newer indigenous military aircraft (essentially evolved from their original Soviet/Russian origins). As the Z-19 is built from the French AS365/Chinese Z-9, it shares roughly the same tail unit structure and engine placement - the key defining physical feature of the Z-19 being its stepped cockpit and slim fuselage design. A chin turret holds various optical equipment (TV, FLIR, Laser Rangefinder) while the undercarriage is fixed with two main legs emerging from the fuselage sides and a tail wheel supporting the aft structure. The engines are mounted high and away from the ground to help reduce heat signature and this is further assisted by special dampeners fitted at the exhaust ports. The empennage is nearly identical to that as found on the Z-9 with its shrouded Fenestron tail rotor, high-reaching main vertical tail fin and a pair of vertical stabilizers supported on short pylons along the tail stem. The dual engine layout powers the four-blade main rotor as well as the shrouded tail rotor in a conventional fashion. Armament will be suspended from wing stubs and provide a flexible ordnance mix consistent with current-generation offerings seen elsewhere. The low-altitude attack nature of the Z-19 ensures that it will feature an armored cockpit for the crew and crash resistant seats for worse case scenarios.

Power for the Z-19 stems from 2 x Zhuzhou Aeroengine Factory WZ-8A turboshaft engines - the same as featured on the Z-9B series and a copy of the French Turbomeca Arriel turboshaft. The engines are rated at 848 horsepower each resulting in a maximum speed estimated at 152 miles per hour with a range out to 435 miles.

In terms of armament, the Z-19 will sport the usual pattern of weaponry common to all modern attack helicopters. This will include various Chinese-made air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles (including anti-tank), rocket pods, gun pods and cannon pods. Hardpoints may also be plumbed for the carrying of external fuel stores for longer sorties. The Z-19 has been mentioned with the HJ-8 anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) and TY-90 air-to-air missiles as well as a 23mm cannon.

Harbin Z-19 (Black Whirlwind) (WZ-19) (Cont'd)

Reconnaissance / Light-Attack Helicopter

Harbin Z-19 (Black Whirlwind) (WZ-19) (Cont'd)

Reconnaissance / Light-Attack Helicopter

While the upcoming Z-10 is categorized as a "heavy" attack helicopter, the Z-19 will be of the lighter classification. In this way, the Z-19 will be a direct complement to the Z-10 and work in conjunction as a "hunter-killer" team while the Z-19 will also be further utilized in the armored scout role. At any rate, the Chinese Army is certainly broadening its tactical capabilities in the new millennium, intending to show the world that it belongs as a major defense superpower. For the Asia-Pacific region - and the United States for that matter - this certainly stands as a red flag.

The Z-19 is also intended for export customers and these will carry the designation of "WZ-19". Since the Z-19 remains in development and in prototype form as of this writing (2012), it is suspected that service entry will not commence until sometime in 2015 or later as many of the onboard systems will need to pass their various evaluations before being declared fully operational at the military level.

As mentioned, the Chinese Army has also taken to arming their Z-9 family of helicopters in the latest standard "Z-9WZ" guise with an expansive weapons capability giving the PLA a modern attack performer until the more dedicated helo platforms come online.

AVICopter is developing the export-minded version of the Z-19 (as the "WZ-19") with availability set for sometime in 2017.


May 2017 - The first-flight of the export-minded Z-19E reconnaissance-attack helicopter variant was recorded.

October 2018 - Batch production of the export-minded Z-19E is set to begin before year's end.

General Assessment (BETA)

Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
MF Power Rating (BETA)
The MF Power Rating takes into account over sixty individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of 100 total possible points.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (152mph).

    Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Harbin Z-19's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Supported Arsenal
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft machine gun pod
Graphical image of an aircraft cannon pod
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-tank guided missile
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.