Unveiled: Chinese KJ-600 carrier AWACS aircraft, is it an E-2 Hawkeye from the east? Latest photo1
A new photo surfaced online showing the latest Chinese early warning aircraft, the KJ-600, revealing more details for the first time.
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The KJ-600 is the first Chinese Navy carrier borne early warning aircraft, and the newly released satellite image unveiled its tail, closely resembling the U.S. Navy E-2 Hawkeye aircraft.
In this photo, shadow of the KJ-600 planes confirm it has four vertical stabilizers, a unique feature also built into the E-2 Hawkeye. The two vertical stabilizers on the outside appear to be longer than the other two. And horizontal stabilizer is placed roughly one third from the bottom of outside vertical stabilizer, also resembling design of the E-2.
The photo is likely taken from Yan Liang test center in western China. Previous photos of actual KJ-600 aircraft do not have the shadow of stabilizers, this is the first time the detail of tail arrangement is confirmed. Another satellite photo also reveals the same finding.
Overall, KJ-600 has similar layout as the E-2 Hawkeye, it is a twin-propeller, quad-tail, high-wing aircraft with a large size radar dome on top. And its purpose is also close to Hawkeye, providing airborne early warning and control for Chinese Navy carrier battle group, intended to be deployed on Type 003 aircraft carrier currently being built in eastern China.
The KJ-600 is likely powered by a pair of WJ-6 turboprop engine, with western style 6 blade propeller. The plane might reach maximum speed of 700 kilometer per hour, range 1,250 km, and ferry range 2,800 km. With aerial refueling, 4 KJ-600 aircrafts can provide cover for the carrier battle group continuously.
The radar dome on the top houses an Active Electronic San Array radar, a much more advanced radar comparing what Hawkeye has. It is likely the antenna is only facing one side, covering around 160 degree, and with rotation of the dome, the radar can monitor full circle of 360 degrees.
Previously a non-flying model was observed on a training mock-up carrier, now we know for sure how its tail section is designed. It has folding wing design to save space onboard aircraft carrier.
It is reported that the aircraft made its first flight in August, 2020. Some unconfirmed photos show the airplane performing test flights.
The KJ-600 offers Chinese Navy the first fixed-wing carrier-borne early warning platform, it is a vital part of Chinese Navy building strive starting from 1980s. It can significantly enhance Chinese Navy's offensive and defensive capabilities, improve situational awareness and network-centric warfare capability, a massive boost to the Chinese Navy.
The latest photo also unveils a few Y-20 large size transport aircrafts are being fitted with the latest Chinese WS-20 turbofan engines, a much better power option comparing Russian made D30 engines. And some H-6 bombers, J-11 fighters can be spotted. Other military aircrafts are also parked in the testing facility.
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