February 4, 2012: The Western arms embargo (because of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre) against China is crumbling. France is leading the way. European firms are particularly eager to drop the embargo and some, like France, are ignoring it. This is done by disregarding the installation of dual-use Western equipment in weapons systems. The latest example is the use of French Arriel 2C engines (built under license in China) for the Z-9WE combat helicopter.
The Arriel 2C engine is only supposed to be used for Chinese civilian helicopters and is used for over 300 of them. Earlier models of the Z-9 use Chinese designed and built WZ8A engines. These were not satisfactory. So now China is advertising the use of Arriel 2C engines in its Z-9WE combat helicopters.
This use of Western engines in military helicopters is not new. Five years ago China installed Canadian PT6C-67C engines in its Z-10 helicopter gunship. China shrugs off foreign protests at this and, partly because of this, European military equipment manufacturers are pushing for a lifting of the embargo.
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).