A recent image of the improved transport/SAR variant People’s Liberation Army Navy Changhe Z-8CJ (usually with ’84x0x’ serial numbers). It differs a bit to the regular Z-8S by featuring a nose mounted weather radar, FLIR, search lights and most of a a unique stretched engine compartment aft the main rotor. At least two Z-8Js (S/N 9566, 9576) and two Z-8JHs (S/N 9516, 9546) were seen onboard the aircraft carrier Liaoning for the SAR purpose. Some were installed with a nose FLIR turret and additional external pylons to carry rocket and gun pods for anti-piracy operations.
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). 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 power plant are 3 WZ-6 turboshafts. It held the distinction of being the most powerful helicopter to be built in Europe at one point, as well as being the world’s fastest helicopter.