It was reported that the 602 Institute is developing the next generation medium transport helicopter (Z-18?) to replace the old Z-8. The helicopter is expected to be based on the earlier AC313/Z-8YJ design. First flight is expected to be around 2013. Another large transport helicopter is also under development at 602 involving some degree of Russian assistance. This design appears similar to Russian Mi-26 but somewhat smaller.
Z-8 is a land or ship based ASW/SAR helicopter based upon French SA-321Ja Super Frelon (13 were bought in the late 70s, S/N 94x6, 95x6, being retired). The helicopter was developed in the 80s by Changhe Aircraft Industrial Corporation (CHAIC) and gave the Chinese valuable experience of building a medium-sized helicopter. Its maximum TO weight is 13t, cruise speed 248km/hr, ferry range 1,400km, service ceiling 3,050m. Its powerplant are 3 WZ-6 turboshafts. For ASW mission, Z-8 is equipped with a surface search radar, French HS-12 dipping sonar while carrying a Whitehead A244S/ET52 torpedo under the starboard side of the fuselage. It may also carry YJ-83K ASMs in the future for anti-ship mission. Several Z-8s (S/N 90x7, 91x7) were delivered to PLAN in the late 90s but poor quality had hampered additional orders from the Navy. Later the problems seemed to have been solved and the small batch production resumed in 2002 for the Navy as Z-8J (S/N 95x6, 95x7) transport helicopter. A naval SAR version called Z-8S (S/N 91x7) with upgraded avionics and a search light, a FLIR turret and a hoist first flew on December 25, 2004. At least two have been delivered to PLAN. Another SAR variant with dedicated medical equipment onboard was also developed for the Navy as Z-8JH (S/N 95x6). Four are in service with PLAN. Some were installed with a nose FLIR turret and additional external pylons to carry rocket and gun pods for anti-piracy operations. At least one Z-8J is stationed onborad the aircraft carrier Liaoning.