The new Z-19 does not have a cool name, but it does have some very interesting features.
The use of the word ‘Stealth’ is probably a little too strong a term for this new helicopter as the stealth used is not in the classical sense. In the case of the Z-19, it’s acoustic stealthiness along with exhausts that shield the aircraft from Infra-red threats, rather than radar-absorbing materials and shapes like the modified Stealth Black Hawk used in the Osama Bin Laden raid.
The Z-19 is being developed by Harbin Aircraft Industrial Corporation and is suspected to operate alongside the larger Z-10 which is roughly the size of a Ah-64 Apache and is more of a tank killer. Moreover, the Z-10 is now entering front line service with the smaller Z-19 a few years behind.
The Z-19 is roughly the size of an OH-58 Kiowa and made its first flight in May 2010. Although it has been reported that one prototype was lost during September 2010, there are no details of the cause of the crash or even if there were fatalities. The fuselage is the usual slim tandem cockpit design, although unlike most gunship designs the pilot sits in the front seat with the gunner in the elevated rear seat. The chin turret sits in the usual place and the cabin has the distinct look of the Agusta A-129 about it.
Moving to the rear of the aircraft, the Z-19 has exhuasts that point up reducing the infra-red signature, ‘stubby’ wings with hard points and the tail boom whose look remind the AH-66 Comanche with the fenestron tail. It’s the latter that gives clues to its acoustic damping that is ideal for a forward scout able to creep up on an unsuspecting enemy or provide targeting data for its partner in crime the Z-10.
The Z-19 boasts armour plating for its crew along with crash resisting seats; the chin turret has FLIR, TV and a laser range finder. The chopper can carry a wide weapons load including 23mm gun pods, anti-tank and air-to-air missiles giving it a wide-ranging punch. A range of 700km, a service ceiling of 2,400 m and a cruising speed of 245 km/h finishes off the performance figures.
The most interesting thing about the z-19, other than its obvious evolution over previous designs, is its export potential to countries that do not have the big budgets and are looking for a cheaper alternative to the Apache’s, Hinds and Z-10s.
China could find it has a best seller on its hands if it capitalizes on the new helicopters potential.
Its in service date is unknown. However, since it is currently in an advanced flight testing program, the PLAAF should be taking delivery of the Z-19 within the next few years.
Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com
Image via Chinese Internet
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The Aviationist wrote a post the other day relating to the fact that industry insiders had leaked that the Pentagon was planning on cancelling the whole Global Hawk program not only not buying any further aircraft but to retire the fleet they already have.
This would actually appear to be true going by some of the unusual tweets posted by Northrop Grumman itself. In one, the company announced that they had been loaning parts for the U-2 program surveillance sensors to keep those aircraft in the air. They have also tweeted a link to a website urging visitors to lobby their member of congress, even having a box for the visitor to fill in their zip code so they could work out who that person is. If you would like to take a look at this website please look here.
All very unusual actvities, suggesting that this isn’t the last we have heard of this.
Northrop Grumman did release the following media statement on the Jan.26:
“The Pentagon announced today that it is planning to cancel the Global Hawk Block 30 program and plans to perform this mission with the U-2 aircraft. Northrop Grumman is disappointed with the Pentagon’s decision, and plans to work with the Pentagon to assess alternatives to program termination.
“The Global Hawk program has demonstrated its utility in U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as its utility in humanitarian operations in Japan and Haiti. Just a few months ago, the Pentagon published an acquisition decision memorandum regarding Global Hawk Block 30 that stated: ‘The continuation of the program is essential to the national security… there are no alternatives to the program which will provide acceptable capability to meet the joint military requirement at less cost.’
“Global Hawk is the modern solution to providing surveillance. It provides long duration persistent surveillance, and collects information using multiple sensors on the platform. In contrast, the aging U-2 program, first introduced in the 1950s, places pilots in danger, has limited flight duration, and provides limited sensor capacity. Extending the U-2′s service life also represents additional investment requirements for that program.
“Northrop Grumman is committed to working with our customers to provide the best solutions for our country and our allies. We are pleased with the continuing support for the Global Hawk Block 40 system, as well as for the Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance system and our other unmanned systems.”
It’s looking like North Grumman is going to fight this tooth and nail to try and reverse this decision.
Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com