The French-originated Eurocopter (Airbus) Ecureuil forms the basis of the relatively new Chinese-designed and -developed CAIC 'Z-11'. The Z-11 is a light utility helicopter developed for both military and civilian markets and is showcased with a broad spectrum of inherent capabilities. It is similar in role and function to the American MD Helicopters MD500 (Hughes Model 500) light series helicopters which has proven a global favorite (over 4,500 having been built).
Development of the Z-11 was started in 1989 and involved heavy reliance on CAD systems (indeed the Z-11 is billed as the first all-CAD/CAM designed Chinese helicopter). The prototype achieved a first-flight on December 22nd, 1994 and, by late October of 2000, the helicopter had completed the requisite testing and certification phases. The Z-11 was introduced in September of 1998 and is manufactured by the Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC).
As completed, the Z-11 features a length of 11.25 meters, a diameter (rotor included) of 10.7 meters and a height of 3.15 meters. Its empty weight is 1,120 kilograms against an MTOW of 2,200 kg. Power is from a Chinese-built WZ-8D series turboshaft engine developing 684 horsepower and driving a three-bladed main rotor and two-bladed tail rotor (set to starboard).
The frontal section of the fuselage is largely windowed for excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit. The pilot(s) enter and exit by way of automobile-style doors along the fuselage sides. The passenger cabin is fitted directly aft of the cockpit with the engine compartment along the roof. The undercarriage sports a simple twin skid arrangement connecting to the underside of the aircraft at four points. The empennage is slender and houses the drive shaft for the tail rotor.
Armed versions of the helicopter have been featured with wingstubs for mounting variable armament including Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs). Door positions have also been outfitted with either machine guns or Automatic Grenade Launchers (AGLs) atop pintle mounts. A chin-mounted optics set is also noted on these armed birds.
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Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAIC) - China Manufacturer(s)
Z-11 - Base Series Designation; civilian market form.
Z-11J - Militarized variant of the Z-11.
Z-11W - Armed military variant for multirole use.
Z-11WA - Military scout platform
Z-11MB1 - Outfitted with alternative French-based Arriel 2B1A series turboshaft engine.
Z-11ME1 - Variant
CZ-11W - Armed light-attack platform with either Chinese or French engine; revamped over-battlefield capabilities and systems.
Z-11WB - Armed attack-reconnaissance variant; all-new cockpit; revised weapons support and capabilities; multirole functionality.
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