Changhe Z-18AEW-N AEW Helicopter:

In the late Nineteen-Seventies, the Chinese acquired over a dozen Super Frelon SA321 naval helicopters. Equipped for Anti-Submarine warfare and Search and Rescue, the Super Frelon was the first helicopter operated by the Chinese Military able to be operated from the flight deck of naval surface vessels. It was copied in the form of the Changhe Z-8 while substituting the Changzhou Lan Xiang WZ6 turboshaft for the original engines. The Chinese needed aircraft to fill other roles and it was adapted for a number of different roles including army transport. It was also sold into the civilian market as the Avicopter AC313 .

The Chinese military initially purchased a number of Kamov Ka-31 from Russia for carrier airborne early warning in the beginning of the Twenty-First century. It was decided to not adopt them into service however but instead an Airborne early warning helicopter was developed from the Z-8. The folding radar was initially claimed to be an indigenous active electronically scanned array design but in fact was almost a direct copy of the conventional radar carried on the Ka-31. It folded against the fuselage when not in use. The communication suite was also similar. The Z-8 did have space for a larger crew than the K-31 and did have some other advantages as well. Generally, it was operated by a crew of five. Unlike most Chinese designs, the airborne warfare version of the Z-8 was never exported.

In the early Twenty-Thirties, there was a revolution in composite and alloy materials. These new materials were far tougher as well as being almost immune to normal fatigue and corrosion. As a result, a new version of the Z-8 using these new materials was introduced. Even though almost identical other than the use of new materials, it was designated the Z-18. I was designed to fill the same roles as the previous design including anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, army transport, and airborne early warning.

Production had just begun when a second technical revolution struck. Only a comparative handful of conventional helicopters had been built. That was in the area of power generation. Compact fusion plants were developed. These revolutionized almost all aspects of life and military designs soon began fitting them. The Z-18 design was again redesigned to take advantage of these new engines. These engines gave the helicopter almost unlimited range and increased top speed slightly. It does overheat more rapidly than most Western fusion power plants however.

Later in the Z-18AEW-N career, it was upgraded with an improved radar system. The radar system had become dated and a longer ranged radar system was needed. The Soviet had fitted their later K-31 with an upgraded radar system. Developed slightly later than the Soviet upgrade, the radar carried on the upgraded Chinese helicopters is an active electronically scanned array radar system far more resistant to jamming than the original radar system. In addition, it has better range than the Soviet upgrade with a range of four hundred kilometers, twice the original range, and able to track more targets, 128 targets, and able to perform intercepts to up to 64 of them. Many older Z-18AEW-N were upgraded with the new radar system although some retained the older radar system. Along with the radar system, the communication array was also upgraded with greater range and communication channels.

Each Chinese aircraft carrier embarked four of these airborne warning helicopters on most deployments along with twice as many helicopters for anti-submarine warfare. Unlike the Soviet Navy, these helicopters were never replaced by tilt rotors similar to the United States V-22. The Indian navy also retained helicopters in this role although operated the Soviet K-31 in this role. The Z-18AEW-N retained a crew of five each, a pilot, copilot, and three to operate the electronic suite. The helicopters were unarmed but do mount self defense measures in the form of chaff and flare systems.

By the time the apocalypse, it is believed that all conventional Z-18AEW were retired with only having been built, mostly prototypes. All of the old Z-8 were scrapped soon after the introduction of the Z-18, the Chinese military deciding for new construction instead of refitting older helicopters. They might have been used for spare parts for nuclear powered models. Otherwise, most remained in service. The airborne warfare version of the Z-18 was build in comparatively limited numbers. While most were probably wrecked, it is quite possible some of these helicopters may have survived. Made out of new high strength composites and alloys, corrosion should be minimal.

Model Type: Changhe Z-18AEW-N
Class: AEW / Radar Helicopter
Crew: Five (Pilot, Copilot, Electronics Officer, two Electronics Personnel)
Troop Payload: None

M.D.C. by Location:

Forward Sensor Array:30
Radar Array (Folds against fuselage):60
Reinforced Cockpit:75
[1] Main Rotor (6 Blades):60 (10 each blade)
[1] Tail:40
Landing Gear (3):10 each
[2] Main Body:165

[1] Destroying the rear rotor or one of the main blades will cause the helicopter to fly at half speed, wobble and is -6 to parry, -3 to strike, and -40% on piloting skill/maneuvers. Smart pilots will land as soon as possible. Destroying the main top rotor will knock the helicopter out of the sky! Roll under the piloting skill -30% for a successful crash landing (due to the reinforced nature of the Merlin, crew takes only half damage from an impact.
[2] Destroying the main body knocks the helicopter out of the sky and renders it completely useless.

Driving on Ground (Taxiing): Only possible for take offs and landings as well as for parking and storage. Speed is 40 mph (64 kph) when traveling and not on take off or landing. Helicopter can land and take off from primitive runways.
Flying: Hover to 165 mph (265.5 kph / 143.4 knots) with a ceiling of 11,150 feet (3,400 meters). The helicopter has great maneuverability and VTOL capabilities. Cruise speed is around 138.1 mph (222.2 kph /120 knots.) Generally will not go above cruise speed with radar deployed.
Range: Effectively Unlimited but does overheat when operated for long periods of time. The Z-18 engines will overheat after 4 hours of continuous operation when running at top speed and 8 hours when run at under 93.2 knots (81 knots / 150 kph)

Statistical Data:
Height: 21.85 feet (6.66 meters)
Rotor Width: 61.00 feet (18.59 meters)
Fuselage Length: 75.56 feet (23.03 meters)
Weight: 15,983.5 lbs (7,250 kg) empty and 30,423.8 lbs (13,800 kg) fully loaded
Power System: Nuclear Fusion, three Changzhou Lan Xiang WZ108-N Fusion Turboshaft Should have an average life span of 8 years.
Cargo: Minimal (Storage for small equipment.)
Black Market Cost: Extremely rare, costs range from around 12 to 20 million when available (Can sometimes sell for double that price).

Weapon Systems (None Standard):

  1. One (1) Anti-Missile Chaff/Flare Dispenser: Use the same effects as the TRIAX model. However, each time the system is engaged, the system fires off one chaff and 1D4 flares. Rifts Earth decoys systems are assumed to not operate against Phase World missiles due to technological difference. Reduce effects by 20% against smart missiles (Add +20% to rolls for smart missiles.)
      01-50 Enemy missile or missile volley detonates in chaff cloud - Missiles are all destroyed.
      51-75 Enemy missile or missile volley loses track of real target and veers away in wrong direction (May lock onto another target.)
      76-00 No effect, enemy missile or missile volley is still on target.
    Also note that the chaff cloud will also blind flying monsters that fly through cloud. They will suffer the following penalties: reduce melee attacks/actions, combat bonuses, and speed by half.
    Duration: 1D4 melee rounds.
    Payload: 20 chaff, 40 flares. Each time the system is engaged, the system fires off one chaff and 1D4 flares.

Special Equipment:
Consider the military versions of the helicopter to carry all standard equipment that robot vehicles carry (not including loudspeaker and microphone) plus the following extra systems:

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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

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