A new armed naval variant of China's Z-9 helicopter has been rolled out, fitted with a new anti-ship missile.
Developed from Harbin's Z-9C shipboard helicopter, already in service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, the latest aircraft is designated Z-9D. An image taken recently at the Harbin Aircraft Industry Group facility in the northeastern city of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, shows what appears to be the prototype Z-9D armed with a Hongdu radar-guided TL-10B (KJ-10B) missile.
This is the first time that an anti-ship missile has been seen on a Chinese naval helicopter. The image also confirms that the air-launched TL-10 programme is moving forward to deployment.
The TL-10 missile family first appeared in public as a ship-launched weapon (JJ-10) in 2004. In 2006, its manufacturer, the Hongdu Aviation Industry Group, showed the air-launched version (KJ-10). The TL-10 series is a modern, lightweight anti-ship missile system with a 30 kg armour-piercing warhead. It is a rocket-powered, relatively high speed (M0.85) weapon with a maximum range of about 18 km when air launched.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the TL-10 programme is that it has been developed in co-operation with Iran.
Image: The newly rolled out Z-9D shipboard helicopter seen at the Harbin plant with a TL-10B (KJ-10B) anti-ship missile. (Via Chinese internet)