View Full Version : Chinese AWACS airborne

Franco Lolan
24 Nov 04,, 02:28
"Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS)

At least one Chinese indigenous airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft (KJ-2000?) was spotted undergoing tests in Nanjing in 2003. The aircraft, which is based on a Russian-made A-50 airframe, carries a phased array radar (PAR) system designed and developed by Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technology (also known as 14th Institute). The existence of such a project represents China’s latest effort to acquire airborne early earning capability, which it has been actively seeking for over a decade.


By 1992, China had begun talks with Russia about purchasing the Beriev A-50 (NATO codename: Mainstay) plane, the AWACS variant of the Ilyushin IL-76 military transport aircraft. Later, talks involved acquisition of an Israeli radar system. Three-way negotiations that began in 1994 considered four AEW aircraft for $1 billion. In 1996 China, Russia, and Israel reached initial agreement on a $250 million deal to supply one AEW aircraft to the PLAAF by installing an Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) Phalcon phased-array radar with 360 degree coverage on a A-50 plane.

In May 1997, Israel and Russia reached agreement on modifying one IL-76, as a Beriev A-50I, for $250 million, with the option of three more AWACS for a total cost of $1 billion. Russia secured about 20 percent of the deal. After some delay, in October 1999, Russia transferred an A-50 airframe to Israel for the installation of the Phalcon AEW radar system by IAI. By May 2000, Israel had nearly completed work on the aircraft.

The Phalcon deal became an increasingly controversial issue between the United States and Israel. In 2000, the Clinton Administration voiced stronger objections to the sale and urged Israel to cancel the sale of the Phalcon, saying it is a system comparable to the U.S. AWACS and could collect intelligence and guide aircraft from 250 miles away. Finally, in July 2000 the Israeli government cancelled the deal with China.

Following the humiliation of the cancelled A-50I/Phalcon deal, China turned to indigenous solutions. The Phalcon radar and other electronic systems were taken off from the unfinished A-50I, and the airframe was handed to China via Russia in 2002. Modifications on the A-50I airframe began in late 2002 to install the Chinese-made airborne radar system at Xi’an Aircraft Industry Co. (XAC). The aircraft made its first flight in November 2003, and was reportedly rename as Kongjing-2000 (KJ-2000).

Unconfirmed reports claimed that so far two KJ-2000s (one based on A-50I, one converted from a PLAAF/CUA IL-76) have been delivered to the PLAAF for operational evaluation and tests. A total of four aircraft may eventually be built, either on new A-50s purchased from Russia, or directly converted locally from the existing IL-76s in service with the PLAAF.


The detailed information regarding the new Chinese AWACS is unknown. However, it is estimated that the aircraft is comparable to the Russian A-50 in general flight performance.

The Chinese AWACS is based on the airframe of the Russian A-50 AWACS aircraft, which was developed and manufactured by the Beriev Aircraft Research and Engineering Complex Joint Stock Company based at Taganrog in the Rostov Region of Russia. The A-50’s airframe was developed from the llyushin IL-76MD military transport aircraft manufactured by the Ilyushin Aviation Complex Joint Stock Company based in Moscow. The most distinctive difference on the A-50 airframe is the removal of the 'glass-in' nose of the IL-76MD.

The A-50 carries out patrol missions at an altitude of 5,000m to 10,000m. The patrol service ceiling is 10,000m. The maximum flight range of the aircraft is 5,000km and the flight endurance is 7 hours 40 minutes. At a range of 2,000m, the A-50 can remain on patrol for up to 1 hour 25 minutes. The Chinese A-50 airframe also has a fixed in-flight refuelling probe, which could be refuelled by the IL-78 Midas tanker. This will significantly increase the range and flight endurance of the aircraft.


The Chinese AWACS has a unique phased array radar (PAR) carried in a round radome. Unlike the U.S. AWACS aircraft, which rotate their rotodomes to give a 360 degree coverage, the radar antenna of the Chinese AWACS does not rotate. Instead, three PAR antenna modules are placed in a triangular configuration inside the round radome to provide a 360 degree coverage.

The Chinese-made airborne earning warning radar system could be similar in capability to the IAI Phalcon, but may not be as capable as the latter. The Phalcon system could track up to 60~100 targets at the same time and guide a dozen fighters in all-weather, day and night operations.

The photos of the KJ-2000 indicate that the aircraft has an aerial refuelling probe in its nose. If the aircraft can be refuelled by the Russian-made IL-78 Midas tanker, its flight endurance and effectiveness could be further increased.

Date Last Updated: 13 November 2004" Sinodefence.com


The Chinese AWACS made its maiden flight in November 2003, and has been undertaking various tests in Nanjing since then


The Chinese AWACS is based on the A-50I airframe with a Chinese-made phased array radar (PAR) system, which is said to be comparable to the Israeli Phalcon

Many have spoken that other airforces are considerably better than PLAAF as a result of their AWACS advantage. What now?

Officer of Engineers
24 Nov 04,, 02:30
One plane does not an AF make.

Franco Lolan
24 Nov 04,, 02:46
One plane does not an AF make.

strange sentence structure. LOL.

yes, but is it not a significant step forward that can lead to the creation of a strong AWACS system?

Officer of Engineers
24 Nov 04,, 03:16
They need at least 2 more (preferably 4 more) before they can start having some serious training. Right now, it's an advertising brochure.

24 Nov 04,, 23:46
I heard they were also developing a counterpart to the Ac-130 Gunship! :)

The thing is supposed to have a very similar armament, but on a Y-8 ( Photo-copied An-12 'Cub' )

There was another variant of the Y-8 called the Y-8AEW with the Beriev's Awacs Radar installed on it!

And another with the British Skymaster!


25 Nov 04,, 09:50

Kowtow as ususal and they will give you all that.

Pak istan has kowtowed all.

What's news?