First images of KJ-500 AEW&C operational with PLAAF
February 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Devoid of serials, this PLAAF KJ-500 makes its approach for an unidentified airfield. © Chinese internet / VF-154
The first clear images of China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)'s new KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft are starting to appear online. The type has been seen, usually in primer coating, at the China Flight Test Establishment at Xian-Yanliang over the past two years but this is the first time it has been photographed in operational service with the PLAAF. The first KJ-500 is believed to have been delivered to the PLAAF's 26th Special Mission Division at the end of 2014 and at least three have entered or will enter service soon.
The KJ-500 is based on the Y-9 turboprop transport platform. Unlike its predecessor — the KJ-200 — which utilises a "balance beam" active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar providing a limited 240-degree view, the KJ-500 employs a three-sided AESA radar in a fixed radome for full 360-degree radar coverage.
China's AEW&C capability is currently provided by 11 Y-8-based KJ-200s (reportedly five with the PLAAF and six with the People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force — PLANAF) and four larger Il-76-based KJ-2000s (all with the PLAAF).
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