China Unveils Z-8L Heavy-lift Helicopter Comparable to Russian Mi-17

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The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has unveiled its first 15 ton-class transport helicopter, designated as the Z-8L.

The new helicopter is capable of transporting an all-terrain assault vehicle and other heavy equipment. It is expected to enter service with aerial assault troops in the near future in amphibious assault missions, state media reported.

Based on the Z-8 and being another Z-8 variant in addition to the Z-8G, the Z-8L has a wider body so it can accommodate a Bobcat all-terrain assault vehicle, whose size is comparable to the Russia-made Mi-17 helicopter.

A Z-8L helicopter affiliated with a Jiangxi-based PLA test flight unit recently went through a series of tests on carrying and lifting a Bobcat all-terrain assault vehicle, Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine reported.

By comparison, the original Z-8 belongs to the 13 ton-class, and another new PLA helicopter, the Z-20, belongs to the 10 ton-class.

Equipped with a new type of photoelectric device and self-defense systems including radar warning receiver and infrared decoys, the Z-8L has higher survivability, the magazine said.

Multiple Z-8Ls carrying all-terrain assault vehicles means vertical-landing troops will have vehicles to use the moment they have their feet on the ground, which will allow them to win crucial tactical opportunities, the report said.