skip to main content

China progressing development of KJ-600 and Y-20B aircraft

Analysis of commercial satellite imagery captured on 2 October indicates that China is advancing the development of both the KJ-600 carrier-capable airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft and a new variant of the Y-20 heavy transport aircraft – known as Y-20B – fitted with Shenyang WS20 high-bypass turbofan engines.

The images show a second prototype of each aircraft type at the Xian-Yanliang airfield, which is home to both a Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) plant and the China Flight Test Establishment (CFTE).

The emergence of these additional prototypes suggests that XAC, which is developing both aircraft, is progressing flight-testing. The maiden flight of the first KJ-600 prototype was reported in August 2020 and that of the Y-20B in November of that year.

Chinese media reported in February that XAC was continuing flight-tests of the KJ-600, with China Central Television (CCTV) showing images of the aircraft, which is being developed for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), flying over the central Chinese city of Xian.

CCTV confirmed that the aircraft 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.

As Janes reported, the KJ-600's 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, told the China Daily

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...