THE VENEZUELA Navy Aviation Command is completing a contract with the Chinese company Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation for the delivery of a batch of eight Z-9 helicopters. The helicopters will be equipped for ASW and possibly to carry also antiship operations and will replace the Agusta Bell AB-212 ASW currently in service with the Escuadrón Aeronaval de Helicópteros Antisubmarinos.
The Z-9 is the locally produced Eurocopter AS-365 Dauphin, of which the first example flew in 1981 and was followed in the nineties by the Z-9B, with more than 70% of parts produced in China. The Z-9C was the first naval version and was followed by the improved Z-9EC, equipped with radar, sonar, MAD and sonobuoys. They can carry ET5 torpedoes (the Chinese copy of the Whitehead A244/S) and the Z-9D version can carry the TL-10 anti-ship missile, a copy of the AM-15TT French missile. Santiago Rivas