A Chinese naval Z-9 departs HMS Cornwall
Role Medium multi-purpose utility helicopter
National origin China
Manufacturer Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation
First flight 1981
Introduction 1994
Status In service
Primary users People's Liberation Army Ground Force
Pakistan Naval Air Arm
Produced 1981–present
Number built 200+
Developed from Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin
Variants Harbin Z-19

The Harbin Z-9 (NATO reporting name "Haitun", Chinese: 海豚 for Dolphin[1]) is a Chinese military utility helicopter with civilian variants. It is a licensed variant of the French Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, and is manufactured by Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation.

Design and development

The first Z-9 flew in 1981, and was built in China from components supplied by Aérospatiale as part of a production patent bought on 15 October 1980.[2] On 16 January 1992, the indigenous variant Z-9B, constructed with 70% Chinese-made parts, flew successfully. The flight test was completed in November 1992 and the design was finalized a month later. Z-9B production began in 1993 and entered PLA service in 1994.[3]

The Z-9B features an 11-blade Fenestron faired-in tail rotor with wider-chord, all-composite blades replacing the 13-blade used in the original AS365N. As a light tactical troop transport, the Z-9 has the capacity to transport 10 fully armed soldiers. Generally the Z-9 is identical to the AS365N Dauphin, though later variants of the Z-9 incorporate more composite materials to increase structural strength and lower radar signature.

The helicopter has a four-blade main rotor, with two turboshaft engines mounted side by side on top of the cabin with engine layout identical to the AS365N. The Z-9 teardrop-shaped body features a tapered boom to the tail fin, with rounded nose and stepped-up cockpit, retractable gear, and all flat bottom.

In 2002, Harbin obtained Chinese certification for the new H410A variant of the Z-9, which features more powerful Turbomeca Arriel 2C turboshaft engines; Eurocopter issued official objections to Harbin's decision to continue production in spite of the license-production agreement having expired, leading to a period of highly sensitive international negotiations to resolve the dispute.[4]


An armed variant has been fielded by the PLA since the early 1990s as the Z-9W, with pylons fitted for anti-tank missiles. These helicopters lack the maneuverability and survivability of a proper attack helicopter, and merely provide a stopgap during the development of the Z-10. The latest armed version, the Z-9W, was introduced in 2005 and has night attack capabilities, with an under-nose low-light TV and infra-red observing and tracking unit.

The naval version introduced in the 1990s is known as the Z-9C. As well as SAR and ASW duties, the Z-9C can be fitted with an X-band KLC-1 surface search radar to detect surface targets beyond the range of shipborne radar systems.[5]

Harbin Z-9W
License-produced variant of the French AS.365N1.
Kit-built variant of the AS.365N2.
Prototypes for domestic market versions with WZ8A engines. First flight 16 January 1992, approved 30 December 1992.
Initial version based on Z-9A-100. Multi-role.
A PLAN Z-9C helicopter
License-produced variant of the Eurocopter AS.565 Panther for the PLA Naval Air Force.
ASW variant produced for the Pakistan Naval Air Arm. Configured with pulse-compression radar, low frequency dipping sonar, radar warning receiver and doppler navigation system, it is also armed with torpedoes for use aboard Pakistan Navy's Zulfiquar-class frigates.[6]
Transport, emergency and/or passenger variant.[7]
Armed version with optional pylon-mounted armament, gyro stabilization and roof-mounted optical sight. Export designation Z-9G, roof-mounted sight optional. First flown in 1987, with the first weapons tests in 1989.[8]
A Harbin Z-9WA
A newer night-capable version has been built with nose-mounted FLIR. July 2011, Xinhua News Agency released a photo of Z-9WA firing AKD10 air-to-ground missile.[9] Incorporates a domestic Chinese helmet mounted sight that is compatible with anti-tank missiles such as HJ-8 /9/ 10, as well as light anti-ship missiles such as C-701/703 and TL-1/ 10 when they are used as air-to-surface missiles, air-to-air missiles such as TY-90 and other MANPAD missiles for self-defense.[10]
Version with 635 kW WZ8C turbo-shaft engines. First flight September 2001, CAAC certification 10 July 2002. One is currently being fitted with a new Mast-Mounted Sighting (MMS) system.
A Harbin Z-19 at the China Helicopter Exposition, Tianjin 2013
Newest VIP version of the H410A.
Projected development.
Attack helicopter development with tandem seats. The Z-19 shares the same powerplant as the Z-9WA.


A map with users of the Harbin Z-9 in blue
A Malian Air Force Z-9B coming in to land
A Z-9 aboard the aft-deck of Type 054A frigate Yiyang during a bilateral counter-piracy exercise between China and the US in 2012

Specifications (Z-9B)

Data from [19]

General characteristics



See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era


  1. ^ Parsch, Andreas; Aleksey V. Martynov (2008). "Designations of Soviet and Russian Military Aircraft and Missiles". Designation-Systems.net. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  2. ^ "哈尔滨飞机工业集团有限责任公司". Hafei.com. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  3. ^ "Z-9 Utility Helicopter". SinoDefence.com. 6 January 2007. Archived from the original on 30 December 2006.
  4. ^ "China Approves Re-engine Z-9 Twin." Flight International, July 2002. p. 43.
  5. ^ "Z-9C (AS 565 Panther) Naval Helicopter". SinoDefence.com. 28 July 2007. Archived from the original on 17 March 2008. Retrieved 26 March 2008.
  6. ^ http://thenews.jang.com.pk/updates.asp?id=87912[dead link]
  7. ^ "航空工业哈尔滨飞机工业集团有限责任公司". hafei.com. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Harbin Z-9W Attack Helicopter". Army Technology. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  9. ^ "Z-9WA attack helicopter". AirForceWorld.com. Archived from the original on 9 September 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
  10. ^ "Z-9 HMS". China Internet Information Center. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  11. ^ "World Air Forces 2020". Flightglobal Insight. 2020. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  12. ^ "Bangladesh Navy set to buy Z-9c asw helicopter". Helihub. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Bangladeshi Navy orders two Do 228s for MPA mission". Flight Global. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Bangladesh Naval Aviation". aeroflight.co.uk. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "World Air Forces 2015". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  16. ^ "Ghana Air Force receives Z-9 helicopters".
  17. ^ "Aged air force inventory highlights Mali's weakness". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  18. ^ "What is Happening in Myanmar - Documenting Equipment Losses in the Myanmar Civil War".
  19. ^ Gordon, Yefim; Dmitry Komissarov (2008). Chinese aircraft. Manchester: Hikoki. ISBN 9-781902-109046.