21 Agustus 2009Chinese Z-9 attack helicopter (photo : Strategy Page)
Chinese Z-9 helicopter gunships stationed near the coast opposite Taiwan, have been spotted carrying a full load (eight) of TY-90 air-to-air missiles. The TY-90 is a modified version of a shoulder fired anti-aircraft missile, designed specifically to be carried by helicopters, for use against enemy helicopters. The TY-90 weighs 44 pounds and has a range of 6,000 meters. It has a relatively large, 6.6 pound, warhead designed to bring down helicopter gunships. This would be done over the Taiwan Straits, during an invasion of Taiwan.
The Z-9 is a license built version of the French AS 365N Dauphin. It's a four ton chopper with a two ton payload. China has built over 200 of the Z-9s and many have been armed (with twin 23mm cannon, torpedoes, anti-tank missiles and air-to-air missiles.)
China has also introduced a new air launched anti-ship missile, the TL-10, for the Z-9 helicopter gunship. The missile was apparently developed in cooperation with Iran (which calls it the Kosar). The TL-10 is a 240 pound missile, with a 65 pound warhead. It has a range of about 18 kilometers. The TL-10 has been in use for a few years, and the latest version, the TL-10C is believed to have a fire and forget guidance system (based on onboard radar).
The TL-10 can be lethal for smaller (under 500 tons) ships, but can do a lot of damage to larger ships. The Z-9D, armed with four TL-10 missiles, could be used to attack the 60 patrol boats that Taiwan deploys along its coasts and in the Taiwan Straits. Z-9s armed with TY-90s can be used against Taiwanese helicopter gunships out hunting for small Chinese warships.