Military Review

Syrian campaign and Chinese experience

Syrian campaign and Chinese experienceThe operation in Syria, carried out by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation at the request of the Syrian government, allows a number of conclusions to be drawn. One of them concerns the further development of domestic long-range radar detection and control aircraft (AWACS). Yes, the A-50U aircraft currently in service and the latest A-100 undergoing testing largely set the bar for such aviation complexes in the world, but they are few. So, during the operation in Syria at the Khmeimim airbase, only single A-50Us were deployed, which, of course, could not provide round-the-clock air duty over the combat area. Therefore, for our Armed Forces, the task of creating a relatively inexpensive operational-tactical AWACS system is now more urgent than ever. And here the experience of China can help us.


In the 90 of the last century, Beijing headed for a radical modernization of its Armed Forces. The growing economy and the increasing role of the country in world politics demanded new qualitative approaches in military construction. One of the areas of modernization of the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) was the creation and adoption of DRLOiU aviation complexes.

The result of the work deployed in this direction turned out to be more than impressive - the Chinese aviation and radio-electronic industry managed to create a whole family of airplanes of various types. As a result, the Celestial Empire was among the countries capable of independently creating modern aviation complexes AWCS, comparable with American, Russian and European counterparts.

To date, Chinese specialists have created four versions of DRLOiU aircraft, named “Kun Jing” (Kong Jing, literally - “celestial eye”) and differing in the aircraft carrier and the onboard radio engineering complex (RTK).

KJ-2000, equipped with RTK with high-power radar, was the first in this line, both in terms of time of entry into service, and in terms of RTK capabilities and value. The basis for its creation on the IL-76 platform was the AEW complex "AI" developed and built in 1997 – 2000 years, according to the contract concluded between Russia, Israel and the People’s Republic of China (A-50I). The complex was developed by the Israeli company Elta multifunctional pulse-Doppler radar EL / M-205. It consists of three active phased antenna arrays (AFAR), forming a triangle and located above the fuselage in a fixed mushroom fairing with a diameter of 11,5 m (more than the E-3 and A-50).

Despite the fact that under US pressure, Israel withdrew from the program, the PRC leadership decided to continue work on the program independently, equipping the AI ​​plane it received with the AFAR radio engineering complex, as well as means of communication and transmission of nationally developed data. During the 2005 – 2007, the PLA Air Force delivered four serial KJ-2000s that were re-equipped with the Il-76MD transport vehicles in China.


In parallel with the creation of KJ-2000 in the PRC, at the end of 90-s, a program was launched to create another DRLOI complex - with more modest capabilities based on the airframe of the Y-8 transport aircraft (the Chinese An-12 clone) equipped with RTK radar AFAR. Two flat cloths AFAR in a fixed rectangular fairing were mounted on the fuselage in the image and likeness of the Swedish plane DRLOiU Saab-340 AEW "Argus".

It was assumed that the operational-tactical complex KJ-200 would complement the more expensive and complex KJ-2000, thereby ensuring combat stability and more flexible use of PLA and PLA aircraft.

The first prototype, made on the basis of an experienced Y-8F-200 transport and equipped with a full-sized antenna system, but not yet fully equipped with RTK equipment, took to the air 8 November 2001 of the year. The first serial KJ-200 was released in the 2004 year. In total, judging by the available data, 11 KJ-200 was released. All of them were included in the 76-th aviation regiment of the DRLO aircraft of the 26-th aviation division of the PLA Air Force's special mission, where they are operated jointly with their “older brothers” KJ-2000.

At the same time, the KJ-200 systems in service are being upgraded. At the end of 2016, photos of the new KJ-200 modification were published (in some sources it is designated as KJ-200A). Its main external difference is the new large radio transparent fairing in the nose (like KJ-500), obviously designed to improve the radar visibility of the RTK in the forward hemisphere. It is possible that all those used in the KJ-200 combat units will be upgraded to the KJ-200A standard.

On the basis of the KJ-200 aircraft, the Chinese specialists, in accordance with the requirements of the Pakistani Air Force, developed an export version, designated ZDK-03. This modification is based on the airframe of a military transport aircraft Y-9. The main apparent difference between the ZDK-03 and the KJ-200 is the placement of the RTK antenna system in a “classic” rotating disc fairing above the fuselage. The first aircraft of this type was solemnly handed over to the Pakistan Air Force 13 on November 2010, after which it began intensive tests with the Pakistani crew. In total, the Pakistani Air Force received four such vehicles in the 2011 – 2015 years.

The development of aircraft complexes KJ-200 and ZDK-03 was the aircraft AWACS KJ-500. It is created on the platform of a transport aircraft Y-9. Apparently, comprehensive testing and operating experience of DRLOI complexes with various types of antennas led Chinese specialists to abandon the Swedish-Brazilian option of placing two flat AFARs in a fixed fairing above the fuselage (as on KJ-200). Therefore, KJ-500 looks similar to the Pakistani ZDK-03, but an important feature of the new complex is that the radio transparent radome, the “plate”, is stationary (it is rotating on the ZDK-03), which form a triangle for provide a circular view. Additional antenna systems are located in the fairings in the nose of the fuselage and tail section, as well as along its sides.

Probably, the onboard equipment KJ-500 is a kind of “symbiosis” of the systems used on the KJ-200 and KJ-2000, and according to the capabilities of the avionics complex, the new aircraft is intermediate between its “older” and “younger” brothers.

The first production aircraft KJ-500 taken into combat personnel of the PLA Air Force at the end of 2014-th - the beginning of 2015 year. It is known that two cars entered the air regiment of special mission aircraft of the Airborne Division, in which KJ-2000 and KJ-200 serve. Two more KJ-500 joined the naval aviation.

Apparently, both types of operational-tactical complexes DRLOUU KJ-200 and KJ-500 will be operated in China in parallel. In the future, the KJ-500 will probably become the main complex of the Airborne Command and Control Division of the Air Force PLA of a similar class.


Taking into account the fact that an ambitious program of building full-fledged aircraft carriers is being implemented in the Celestial Empire, the PLA Navy demanded a deck-based Airliner aircraft. The development program of the Chinese counterpart of the American "Hokaya" was allegedly launched in 2005 year. The official recognition of the existence of such a program was made only in January 2012 of the year, and in the summer of the same year, photographs of the JZY-01 AMERICAN pilot aircraft became available. This machine, created on the basis of the transport Y-7 (“clone” of An-26), is intended for working off the RTK and constructive solutions.

At the beginning of 2017, not very high-quality photos of a full-scale mockup of a prospective carrier-based AWACS aircraft, designated KJ-600 and intended to be based on promising Chinese aircraft carriers of the 002 project equipped with catapults, became available. Chinese experts did not begin to reinvent the wheel, as they chose to follow the classics of the genre - the American carrier-based deer aircraft E-2C. Judging by the photos available, the radome radome also radically resembles the American counterpart.

However, according to some experts, it is made not rotating, but motionless, and inside it (as in KJ-2000 and KJ-500) three AFARs are placed in a triangle, thereby providing a circular view.

There is information about the creation in China of a promising DRLOI aircraft based on the new Chinese heavy transport aircraft Y-20. It was announced and its designation - KJ-3000. Compared to the KJ-2000, the new RTK installed on board, which will implement the latest achievements of the Chinese electronics industry, should ensure a greater detection range and the number of air targets to be accompanied.

In the long term, the role of an airborne platform for the DRLOIU complex is being tried on for the promising Chinese medium-haul passenger airliner С919 and the joint Russian-Chinese wide-body long-haul ShFDMS aircraft (CR929).

Thus, the PRC confidently demonstrates the achieved success of its own research and production base and technologies necessary to create various types of AEW aircraft. In addition, it is an unequivocal application for the entry of Chinese DRLOI aircraft into the international market, where they are fully capable of competing with American, European and Israeli counterparts, primarily for financial, economic and political reasons.

It should be noted that in China, at the same time as the creation of heavy and expensive aviation complexes based on the Il-76MD and Y-20, emphasis is placed on the construction of relatively cost-effective "medium" DRLOA aircraft. At the same time, operational tactical KJ-200 and KJ-500, if necessary, are able to perform strategic tasks. And what is important, to build such complexes at comparable costs can be much more.

The experience of the PLA Air Force, having a whole range of DRLOIU complexes of various classes, should serve as an example for the Russian HQs, since the issue of creating a domestic DRLOiU aviation complex, similar to the designation of KJ-200 and KJ-500, has not just matured, but already, overheated. Such planes are necessary for our VKS "just yesterday."
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  1. Chertt
    Chertt 16 December 2017 19: 26
    Well, that’s already beyond the mind. China, at least one war won? , someday.? Burkina Faso, a more successful military country
    1. cerbuk6155
      cerbuk6155 16 December 2017 21: 33
      China is an ancient state and exists today, this already speaks of it. And you're talking about Burkina-faso-funny. soldier
      1. Chertt
        Chertt 16 December 2017 21: 45
        Quote: cerbuk6155
        itai ancient state

        It is believed that the history of China is a mythology, and real clashes. This is confirmed by a million Chinese crawling in front of a hundred Japanese. This is normal,
        1. voyaka uh
          voyaka uh 16 December 2017 23: 01
          Fomenko concluded that ALL world history is a mythology. But archeology, paleontology, organic chemistry and a number of sciences do not confirm his point of view.
        2. Usher
          Usher 18 December 2017 22: 56
          Put this opinion to hell. Here reasonable people communicate, and not alternative people, truth-seekers, izorigi, Aryans, hyperboreans, etc. rubbish.
      2. Blombirus
        Blombirus 20 December 2017 22: 25
        Quote: cerbuk6155
        China is an ancient state and exists today, this already speaks of it. And you're talking about Burkina-faso-funny. soldier

        Celestial has never had a worthy adversary. As soon as these opponents began to appear, they began to bend this "millennia-old" yellow empire into the most indecent poses. The experience of China is the experience of defeats. We cannot keep up with them in this regard.
    2. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 16 December 2017 23: 06
      The United States formed just about 400 years ago and became a superpower over 200 years.
      China in just 40 of recent years has done what the United States has for 200. He became a superpower number two.
      1. andy.v.lee
        andy.v.lee 17 December 2017 01: 56
        Already - alone! From a political point of view, relations with India are more important for China than relations with the United States. From the economic - "absorption of the Russian Federation."
        1. Usher
          Usher 18 December 2017 22: 57
          Absorption absorption.
        MOSKVITYANIN 17 December 2017 02: 33
        Quote: voyaka uh
        USA formed in total about 400 years ago and became a superpower for 200 years.
        China in just 40 of recent years has done what the United States has for 200. He became a superpower number two.

        Again, Israeli Jews cheat gullible members of the forum
        The formation of the United States as a state occurred only in the 18th century. The Declaration of Independence is the main document from which the reference is made. She was signed 4 July 1776 year. - Read more on

        Those. USA 241 year, gee ....
        Of course, I understand that Israeli Jews are loyal to the United States, like a dog, why should we believe in what you write here?
        The USA became a superpower following the results of the WWII and WWII, due to the sale of B and BT to belligerent states ... because you wrote here the USA became a superpower in 1817, or what? What then?
        I never trusted Israeli Jews, even though the Soviet school would not have been disgraced in which they used to go ...
        1. voyaka uh
          voyaka uh 17 December 2017 15: 08
          You flattered the States even more than I did. Why? wink
          Becoming a superpower in 100 years is even cooler than in 200 ... fellow
      3. Dead duck
        Dead duck 17 December 2017 12: 04
        Quote: voyaka uh
        The United States formed just about 400 years ago and became a superpower over 200 years.

        For four years of World War II, not 200 years.
        After the First World War they failed, the global crisis affected them.
        1. voyaka uh
          voyaka uh 17 December 2017 15: 05
          After the World Wars, their leadership simply became evident.
          Already in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, US GDP was huge.
          But since they almost did not crawl out onto the world stage, it was
          imperceptibly. As with China. They are building up tremendous economic power,
          but so far they do not glow politically. That's when their AUG start
          demonstrate power (to wet the anti-Chinese "Papuans" in the oceans) everyone will understand -
          1. MOSKVITYANIN
            MOSKVITYANIN 17 December 2017 18: 02
            voyaka uh That's when their AUG start
            demonstrate power (to wet the anti-Chinese "Papuans" in the oceans) everyone will understand -

            The fact that the United States is the only superpower that you believe is the only reason why you fell out of the Union ... and why do you need your faith to betray one superpower and the other .....
          2. grandson of Perun
            grandson of Perun 19 December 2017 12: 15
            Given the massive public relations campaign and, as a result, the huge number of migrants from Europe, the technological leap in the USA at the end of the 19th century is not surprising.
            But the USA really became a superpower only by the results of the Second World War.
          3. andy.v.lee
            andy.v.lee 20 December 2017 17: 39
            And right now, Israel will oppose China!
            You have a glass!
          4. andy.v.lee
            andy.v.lee 20 December 2017 17: 41
            In diapers, not on lei!
    3. Troll
      Troll 21 December 2017 14: 52
      Remember the Great Campaign.
      1. andy.v.lee
        andy.v.lee 30 December 2017 04: 45
        I respect Great Germany, but why is your cross fixated on Russia?
  2. turbris
    turbris 16 December 2017 21: 59
    I still don’t understand what this article is about. That a rotating antenna is worse than a stationary one? So this is far from a fact. Nothing is said about the capabilities for detecting, guiding aviation, operating modes by "air" and "by ground", and transmitting information about the air situation to various sources. A very weak article, not a very prepared author, but what are the conclusions - we need to do as the Chinese do, why is this suddenly? We had AWACS aircraft when the Chinese did not even know what it was.
    1. Usher
      Usher 18 December 2017 23: 00
      If you do not understand, then these are your problems. The meaning of the article is that it is necessary to increase the number and range of AWACS aircraft. That there would be both Large and powerful strategists (to complete tasks during important operations) and simpler and cheaper for duty. And what was during the time of the USSR is very small and not so effective.
      1. turbris
        turbris 19 December 2017 13: 27
        Usher - we’ve been with you for a long time, I don’t remember something? The point of the article is that you need to increase the number and range - and is that all? But what about the military budget? Does this bother you? Or maybe there are other, more priority areas, where you need to urgently invest money? It is certainly better when there are many and different ones - that’s all that is said in the article.
  3. aszzz888
    aszzz888 17 December 2017 03: 45
    ... we need a lot of what is needed from the latest weapons, and the operational-tactical complexes of the AWACS are not an exception, but a necessity ...
  4. exo
    exo 17 December 2017 16: 40
    I think that photographs would clearly make the article more interesting. And about China, one can only guess about the true characteristics of their equipment. Advertising is good, but what's the real big question!
    If you managed to get to new foreign developments, maybe they did something normal. But in China's independent development, it is hard to believe.