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China confirms ongoing flight-tests of KJ-600 AEW aircraft

Chinese media confirmed on 21 February that the Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) is continuing flight-tests of its locally developed KJ-600 carrier-borne airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, with the latest flight taking place on 27 January.

State-owned China Central Television (CCTV) showed images of the aircraft, which is being developed to for the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), flying over the central Chinese city of Xian.

The media outlet did not reveal where the aircraft took off from but it is likely to have been from Xian-Yanliang airfield, which is home to both the China Flight Test Establishment (CFTE) and the XAC manufacturing and flight test facilities.

CCTV confirmed that the aircraft, which is believed to have made its maiden flight in August 2020, will require a catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR) system for launch and recovery, limiting its use to China’s Type 003 aircraft carrier or future hulls featuring this system. The Type 003 is under construction at China’s Jiangnan Changxingdao shipyard.

Chinese military expert Song Xinzhi was quoted by CCTV as saying that the KJ-600 has not been designed to operate from the PLAN’s Liaoning and Shandong aircraft carriers – both of which are configured for short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) aircraft operations – because the aircraft has not been equipped with engines powerful enough to take off from the ski-jump on those carriers.

As Janes reported, the KJ-600 rotodome will likely house the KLC-7 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Video shown by the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology (NRIET) at the November 2018 Airshow China defence exhibition in Zhuhai featured a similarly configured aircraft equipped with the radar.

Hu Mingchun, head of NRIET, had told the China Daily

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