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.
People’s Liberation Army Navy Changhe Z-8CJ Helicopter
British manufacturer of ejection seats, Martin-Baker successfully installed the first US16J ejection seat as the U.S. Navy Northrop F-5 seat upgrade program begins at Naval Air Station Fallon. There are over 2,950 Martin-Baker seats in service today in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. With this seat upgrade program along with continued seat deliveries for F-35 Lightning II, T-6 Texan II, and F/A-18 Super Hornet, this number will increase to over 3,000 seats in service in 2020. Martin-Baker has saved 2,238 USN and USMC lives to date.
The U.S. Navy F-5 fleet continues to be modernized with 36 low-hour F-5E/Fs purchased from Switzerland in 2006. These were updated as F-5N/Fs with modernized avionics and other improved systems. Currently, the only U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps units flying the F-5 are VFC-13 at NAS Fallon, Nevada, VFC-111 at NAS Key West, Florida, and VMFT-401 at MCAS Yuma, Arizona. Currently, VFC-111 operates 18 Northrop F-5N/F Tiger IIs. 17 of these are single-seater F-5Ns and the last is a twin-seater F-5F “FrankenTiger”, the product of grafting the older front-half fuselage of an F-5F into the back-half fuselage of a newer low-hours F-5E acquired from the Swiss Air Force. A total of three “FrankenTigers” were made.
A U.S. Navy Northrop F-5N Tiger II (BuNo 761560, USAF s/n 76-1560, former Swiss J-3035) assigned to Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 111 “Sundowners” launches from Boca Chica Field of Naval Air Station Key West, Florida (USA).
Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd. is a British manufacturer of ejection seats and safety-related equipment for aviation. The company’s origins were originally as an aircraft manufacturer before becoming a pioneer in the field of ejection seats. The company’s headquarters are in Higher Denham, Buckinghamshire, England with other sites in France, Italy and the United States.
Martin-Baker supplies ejection seats for 93 air forces worldwide. Martin-Baker seats have been fitted into over 200 fixed-wing and rotary types with the most recent being the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II programme. Martin-Baker claimed in 2016 that since the first live ejection test in 1945, a total of 7,613 lives have been saved by the company’s ejection seats.
The Martin-Baker team are pictured here at NAS Fallon during the seat installation on the 5th December 2019.