Thursday, January 04, 2018

PLA Army Aviation inducts two Z-18A medium transport helicopters into service.

The Z-18 medium transport helicopter has been in service with the PLA Naval Aviation on-board of the aircraft carrier Liaoning, it has become the go-to helicopter platform for specialized missions ranging from airborne early warning (AEW), VIP transport, to anti-submarine warfare (ASW) since.   After four years of extensive testing, the PLA Army Aviation (PLAAV or PLALH in Chinese) finally inducts her own Z-18A - army transport variant - into the 161st Air-Assault Brigade today.

The Z-18 project started as Z-8F-100, a modernized variant of the Z-8 workhorse that has been in service since the early 1980s.  The Z-18A has three more powerful WZ-6C turboshaft engines, enjoys extensive injection of composite materials and a new 'glass' cockpit for its two pilots.  It can accommodate 27 fully armed troops or 15 medical stretchers to a range of 8000 to 10,000 KM.  The army A variant features a terrain following radar and EO turret but missing the rear-wheel pontoons of its naval counterpart.

The 161st Air-Assault Brigade currently has 34 imported Mi17 and some Z-8B in its transport battalion.  It is unclear if the new pair of Z-18A will become the backbone of a new transport battalion or simply become members of the existing one. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

AC313 is Z-8F-100

There is nothing to get excited about with the “new” AC313. It's a Z-8 wearing "white rabbit" makeup.

China's 1st self-developed civilian helicopter makes maiden flight

* Source: Global Times
* [11:09 March 18 2010]
* Comments

China's first independently developed civilian helicopter makes its first flight Thursday in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province.

The AC313, China's first independently developed civilian helicopter, will make its first flight Thursday in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province.

Designed and manufactured by Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the AC313 has a maximum takeoff weight of 13.8 tons and can carry 27 passengers or in the case of rescue efforts, 15 wounded. This aircraft is the country's first domestically developed large helicopter for civilian use.

The helicopter adopts the latest advanced technology, and is developed in line with international standards and certification procedures, signaling a significant breakthrough in the history in the development of civilian helicopters in China.

The aircraft is equipped with advanced turbo-shafts, a high-power drive system, a ball-bearing composite rotor system, and an integrated avionics system. The interior has a large cabin capacity, strong carrying and hanging facilities, and highly adaptable to a wide range of situations after modification.

The AC313 has a variety of uses, including search and rescue, fighting forest fires, assisting in fighting fires within cities, and passenger and freight transport.

Also, the security system of the AC313 is upgraded, and its maintenance, economically efficiency, and traveling comfort are all superior, and it can work well in hot or cold temperatures, or in complex terrain such as mountain areas and oceans.

Zhang Hongbiao, director of the technology department of the AVIC, disclosed recently that the company is preparing to develop its own civilian helicopters with a loading capacity ranging from 20 tons to 30 tons. AVIC has also established a panel to discuss civilian helicopter projects, including the amount of investment and the scale of the project.

AC313 is certified as Z-8F-100

The "AC300"'s production line

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

PR photos of the day: 161st Air-Assault Brigade

Soldiers assigned to an air assault brigade of the 83rd Group Army under the PLA Central Theater Command engage in combat with simulated enemies under fire support by helicopters during an assault, capture and control training exercise at a field training ground in the hinterland of China's Taihang mountains on Dec. 16, 2017. ( by Feng Yu)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Photos of the day: 161st Air-Assault Brigade conducted its first confrontation drill at Zhurihe training base

Less than 100 days after its commission, the 161st Air-Assault Brigade just conducted its first confrontation drill with 18 of its organic helicopters and training support from the PLAN Marine brigade.   The PLAN Marine, of course, has the most operational experience with vertical assault resulting from the PLAN anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden since 2008.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The 1st LH (Army Aviation) Brigade is now the 161st Air-Assault Brigade (空中突击第161旅), 83rd Group Army, Central Theater Command

The great PLA orbat reform of 2017 continues -- the former 1st LH Brigade now has an organic light assault infantry detachment and renamed as the 161st Air-Assault Brigade accordingly.   It is no-longer just a battlefield transport arm of the 83rd Group Army anymore.

To be clear, the PLA has been experimenting with heli-assault tactics in combined arms operations since the formation of its LH (Army Aviation) Corps (here), albeit at a low scale.  In 2005, the CMC detached elements from the 149th Mech Infantry Division to form the experimental 155th Special Light Mechanized Regiment as a first step of putting theoretical theory into practice.  In addition to the 155th, a smaller Heli-Assault battalion battle group was also created at the Nanjing MR to further refine small-unit, heli-assault operations.   Fast forward to 2017, Air-Assault is now part of the ground force's arsenal.  More LH units are expected to be converted into Air-Assault Brigades as part the orbat reform.

The PLAAF is also doing the same (see below) 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Next up at the Stride 2015 - Zhurihe A "red-vs-blue" confrontational exercise, 1st Heli-Assault Brigade, Nanjing MR

This is 1st Heli-Assault Brigade's first "baptism of fire" at Zhurihe, China's premier operational level "red vs blue" proving ground. It should be interesting to see how fine-tuned the PLA air assault tactics are after 10 years of trial and error in adopting this new combat operation. 

The 1st Heli-Assault Brigade (or 直升机机降突击旅 in Chinese) started as the 1st Heli-Assault battalion battle group in 2005, expanded into a full assault brigade in 2008. According to its commander 厉振彪 Li ZhenBiao, due to shortage of organic vertical assets, flatbed trucks were pressed into service to simulate airdrops. Their first military exercise was feasible only by 2009 when additional  helicopters found their way to the Nanjing MR.  Despite taking part at this year's Zhurihe, the outfit is still fairly new by PLA standards, doubts about their effectiveness will remain for some time to come.

Here are CCTV captures of its first military exercise in 2009

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