Military Review

Shaanxi Y-8 aircraft and modifications

In the seventies chinese aviation the industry mastered the production of Shaanxi Y-8 transport aircraft, which were a licensed copy of the Soviet An-12. The first aircraft of this type assembled in China, in the construction of which Soviet-made components and assemblies were widely used, took off at the end of 1974. A year later, Chinese pilots took to the air the first Y-8, completely manufactured in China. The operation of these aircraft began in the very late seventies, and quickly enough they received a lot of positive feedback. Despite some problems of a constructive and production nature, a transport aircraft with a carrying capacity of about 20 tons was very useful for Chinese aviation. Thanks to the successful design, the Y-8 soon became the basis for several new modifications for various purposes. To date, more than three dozen modifications and special aircraft have been developed and built on the basis of the licensed An-12. Not all of them were embodied in metal, but, nevertheless, are worth attention. Consider some of these machines.

Transport modifications

Y-8A. In the mid-eighties, China bought two dozen Sikorsky S-70C helicopters from the United States. For their transportation needed a special aircraft, the basis for which was the Y-8. A cargo ramp was installed on this transporter, resembling the corresponding unit of the American aircraft Lockheed C-130, and also modified the cargo compartment. The loading equipment was removed from it, which made it possible to increase the height of the available volume by 120 millimeters. Only one such aircraft was built, which was used only for the transportation of American helicopters.

Y-8B. Simultaneously with the Y-8A, the engineers of the Shaanxi Aircraft Company (SAC) began the development of a civilian modification of a transport aircraft. The project Y-8B implied the dismantling of weapons and special military equipment. During the rework, the transport aircraft made it easier for the 1700 kilogram, which accordingly affected its carrying capacity. Operation of the Y-8B began in the first half of the nineties.

Y-8C. At the very end of the eighties, SAC, together with the American company Lockheed, began developing another transport aircraft that differed from the previous ones in equipment and some other details. It was assumed that Y-8C will be a Y-8B with a cargo ramp like Y-8A, pressurized cargo cabin, new engines and a number of American-made systems. However, in the 1989 year, the United States ceased cooperation with China and the serial Y-8C did not receive new equipment, and remained a "hybrid" of the first two modifications of the base aircraft.

Y-8D. Back in the mid-eighties, Chinese aircraft manufacturers set out to enter the international market and created an export version of the Y-8 for this purpose. It was a civilian version of this transport aircraft, on which they installed some western-made electronics. Export Y-8D took off for the first time in 1987, and after five years deliveries to third countries began: Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Sudan, etc.

Y-8F. Perhaps the most original modification of the transport destination. In 1989, the Ministry of Agriculture ordered a special aircraft to transport small cattle to new pastures. At the beginning of 1990, one of the production Y-8 aircraft was equipped with special cargo modules. Inside the cargo compartment placed two three-storey structures, assembled from a large number of small pens. One flight Y-8F could carry up to 350 sheep or goats.

Y-8F-100, Y-8F-200, Y-8F-300, Y-8F-400, Y-8F-600. Despite the letter F, they have almost nothing to do with the aircraft for transporting livestock. Modifications with numbers in the name, created since the end of the eighties, are civilian transport vehicles. They differ from the base aircraft with foreign-made electronics, new engines, etc. For example, the newest of these aircraft, the Y-8F-600, is equipped with Pratt & Whitney turboprop engines and a satellite navigation system, as well as an updated fuselage design.

Y-8K. Special passenger version designed to carry the passenger 121. It was developed in the nineties and was built in a relatively small series. Also offered for export.

Shaanxi Y-8 aircraft and modifications

Aircraft Radar Detection

Y-8X. In 1985, the Chinese Air Force received a new aircraft designed to patrol the sea. A radar station, sonar equipment, infrared sensors and magnetometers, cameras and equipment for interacting with acoustic buoys were installed on the base transport aircraft. It is noteworthy that part of the electronics of the patrol aircraft was produced in the United States, which at that time actively cooperated with China. In total, at least four Y-8X aircraft were built, one of which was later converted according to the Y-8J project.

Y-8J. Further development of the ideas embodied in the project Y-8X. In the mid-nineties, Chinese aircraft manufacturers purchased from the British company Racal no more than eight Skymaster radars. In the autumn of 1998, the Y-8 transporter, equipped with an English radar and a number of other equipment, took off for the first time. Presumably, the Y-8X also carries a set of other sensors, corresponding to the equipment of the previous patrol aircraft. Currently, no more than four new patrol aircraft are actively operating.

Y-8CA. For the convenience of testing certain technical solutions, Xian Aircraft Industries has converted one of the serial Y-8C into a flying laboratory. From the plane, the cargo ramp mechanisms were dismantled, and the nose was redesigned. This was done for the reason that on both patrol airplanes the radar antenna was located just under the nose fairing, and in the cargo cabin was installed electronics and the workplaces of its operators. The new design of the nose of the aircraft Y-8CA allows you to install various antennas and test their work in flight. The only flying lab is assigned to CFTE (China Flight Test Establishment).

Y-8W (KJ-200). Back in the late nineties, the development of a new long-range radar detection aircraft began, which differed from another similar project (KJ-2000) in both dimensions and characteristics. On a modified Y-8F-200 transporter, an oblong fairing with an antenna of a radar station was installed on the racks. The first prototype of the Y-8W aircraft took off in the 2001 year. Later, a second prototype was built, on which more advanced equipment was mounted. It was he who became a model for further serial construction of new aircraft. The total number of aircraft Y-8W is unknown.

ZDK-03 Karakoram Eagle. In 2009, China handed over the first ZDK-03 long-range radar detection aircraft to Pakistan. The base for it was the transport Y-8F-600, and the radio-electronic equipment basically corresponded to the Y-8W equipment. Pakistani ordering involves the delivery of four such aircraft.

EW and radio reconnaissance aircraft

Y-8CB (Y-8GX-1). Approximately in 2000, the first Y-8CB jammer made its first flight. Unlike the base model, it does not have an opening tail hatch, and the antennas of jamming stations are distributed over its entire surface. In addition, on the bottom surface of the fuselage there is a rather large fairing of some additional antenna. The Chinese Air Force has at least four such aircraft.

Y-8JB (Y-8GX-2). Specialized aircraft electronic intelligence for the Navy. It differs from the base Y-8 by multiple antennas located over the entire surface of the fuselage. The most notable difference is the large fairing of one of the antennas located on the nose of the aircraft, under the navigator’s cabin. According to some data, when creating a complex of electronic intelligence for the Y-8JB aircraft, information obtained from the study of the American reconnaissance aircraft Lockheed EP-3, inherited by China in the spring of 2001, was used. Y-8JB aircraft have been in use since the mid-2000s.

Other modifications

Y-8E. From 1992 to 1994, SAC produced several aircraft carrying WZ-5 unmanned aerial vehicles Chang Hong-1 (a copy of the American Ryan AQM-34 Firebee). To ensure the work of reconnaissance UAVs, it was necessary to dismantle some Y-8 aircraft’s electronic equipment, and also to remove defensive weapons from it. To mount the UAVs under the wing of the carrier aircraft, two special pylons were installed. The control panel of the WZ-5 devices was placed in the front of the pressure cabinet. The total number of Y-8E does not exceed ten units.

Y-8T. In the first half of 2000, the Chinese air force received at least three Y-8T air command posts. The machine, created on the basis of Y-8F-400, is equipped with a set of various communications equipment, as well as other equipment necessary for effective coordination of actions of different Air Force units and communication with the command of other branches of the military or the armed forces as a whole.

Y-8XZ (Y-8GX-7). Special aircraft for psychological warfare. The two (minimum) aircraft that appeared in 2007 year are equipped with a wide range of television and radio broadcasting equipment and are intended for broadcasting propaganda materials. Probably, Y-8XZ airplanes should be applied according to a technique similar to the tasks of the American Lockheed EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft: determine the frequencies of civil and military radio and television broadcasting, and then transmit their own propaganda materials to them.

Y-8FQ. In the autumn of 2011, photographs appeared confirming rumors circulating before. The new unpainted aircraft had a characteristic radome antenna under the nose, as well as a rod with a magnetometer sensor. In addition, the aircraft received an optical-location station, radiation warning systems, missile detection, etc. Thus, the appearance of the new Y-8FQ said that this is an anti-submarine defense aircraft. Apparently, at present there are no more than a few copies of this aircraft.


As we see, the Chinese Air Force appreciated the Soviet An-12 aircraft, and also understood and began to develop its modernization potential. In modern versions of the Shaanxi Y-8 aircraft from the original An-12, only the main elements of the airframe and several systems remain. All other equipment, such as engines, electronics, etc. repeatedly changed and improved. For this reason, new aircraft based on the Y-8 will continue to appear over the next years and the total number of types is quite capable of crossing over fifty.

On the materials of the sites:

The editorial board of Voenniy Obozreniye urgently needs a proofreader. Requirements: impeccable knowledge of the Russian language, diligence, discipline. Contact: [email protected]

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. Bongo
    Bongo 27 May 2013 08: 12 New
    An extremely detailed overview on this machine. Although I should have mentioned Y-9 as a development of Y-8.
    1. OTAKE
      OTAKE 7 June 2013 16: 57 New
      In our city, Y-7 flies, of local airlines, it is unclear only what if they started to buy in China) cheaper
  2. Dima190579
    Dima190579 27 May 2013 09: 14 New
    1. Bongo
      Bongo 27 May 2013 09: 17 New
      With regard to gunpowder, too, not everything is unique, there are people who invented it in India.
      But seriously, the current Chinese aviation industry is at a fairly high level.
      1. biglow
        biglow 27 May 2013 10: 29 New
        In Europe, gunpowder was invented by the monk Berthold Schwartz, who lived in Prague. The Chinese could not come up with gunpowder due to lack of raw materials.
        1. Guun
          Guun 27 May 2013 11: 55 New
          Well, by the middle of the first century AD, saltpeter was known in China and there is convincing evidence of the use of saltpeter and sulfur in various combinations, mainly for the preparation of medicines. A Chinese alchemical text dated 492 describes a practical and reliable way to distinguish potassium nitrate from other inorganic salts, which serves alchemists to evaluate and compare purification methods - a violet flame is formed when potassium nitrate is burned. Ancient Arabic and Latin methods for the purification of nitrate were published after 1 years. The first mention of a powder-like mixture describes the process of mixing six parts of sulfur, six parts of saltpeter into one part of Aristallocia (the grass that provided the mixture with carbon). The first description of the incendiary properties of such mixtures is the Taoist text tentatively dated to the middle of the 200th century AD. The Chinese word gunpowder means how Fire medicine, came into use a few centuries after the discovery of the mixture. Thus, in the 9th century, Taoist monks and alchemists in search of the elixir of immortality accidentally stumbled upon gunpowder. Soon, the Chinese used gunpowder to develop weapons: in the following centuries, they produced various types of gunpowder. After gunpowder the alchemists of the Ottoman Empires improved, after Europe. Alas, in reality, Europe brazenly appropriated many inventions, because the ancient Romans were much more civilized than Europeans (there were baths, toilets about which the medieval European did not know, military institutes that appeared in Europe at the end of the 18th century) and a lot of things, but what was the surprise of the conquerors of Jerusalem when they they saw that there were bathhouses and places for washing on almost every corner and people were emptying there not on the street like in Europe but in specially designated places. Who who and even the Berbers (the current Tuaregs) who built the Cordoba Caliphate were much more civilized throughout Europe by the beginning of the 18th century - from NatGeoV.
          1. biglow
            biglow 31 May 2013 17: 07 New
            you write about convincing evidence of evidence that is far from convincing, and a wiki is by no means an authority for links.
            If the Chinese invented gunpowder and possessed the technology for making bronze, then where are the Chinese cannons? Portuguese travelers and well-known Marco Polo who arrived in China report that there are no firearms in China. Alchemists in Europe made many discoveries, and in this case just all the documentary evidence that in Europe, pores were still invented, unlike the Chinese, who can only show copies of records made no earlier than the 18th century.
    2. Roll
      Roll 27 May 2013 11: 19 New
      wassat Well, firstly, an airplane can come up with, for example, Ji 31 or Ji 20. But why come up with, it’s that purpose. It’s easier to buy your favorite model and continue its further development. This path is optimal and China shows how to develop in this direction. But it is interesting if we compare our 12th year of release and Chinese Yu -8 whose plane is cooler now ???
    3. seller trucks
      seller trucks 27 May 2013 16: 59 New
      and you are aware that Japan could build its first, own-made passenger plane only in 2010, before that it produced only individual components and assemblies, China, if it had not taken the path of copying other people's technologies, would have trodden in the late Middle Ages, they would have had to start with the Wright brothers plane.
      1. Civil
        Civil 27 May 2013 20: 22 New
        China, like that ..
  3. avt
    avt 27 May 2013 09: 55 New
    Good review for this format +
  4. Takashi
    Takashi 27 May 2013 11: 20 New
    Eka as the Chinese flattened.
    1 plane - and 200 pieces of modifications
  5. Argon
    Argon 27 May 2013 12: 42 New
    Somehow I crossed paths with a crew of Y-8Fh.z.00 in a foreign land, they lived with them for 1,5 days, a Chinese company, international commercial crews. The guys really liked the car (the commander from Moldova, the rest of the Ukrainians) with a reasonable level of automation; a tight cargo compartment, APU-English is completely automatic, reliable and much more compact than ours, on board a kitchen, a relaxation cabin for two. The cabin is partially armored (which for Africa, the option is far from useless) Chinese engines but with automation on a figure, the resource is less but economical and especially The throttle response is better than ours, despite the fact that only two indicators are displayed by the pilots (navigation, flight situation) by the ILS commander, everything else is on the arrow. The engineer has the most bells and whistles, I remember the video surveillance system, the whole plane can be viewed from the outside, from the inside out in flight -the work of controls, more than 20 cameras in total. The diagnostic system is true everything is in English. The worst thing for a navigator is for a European.
  6. The comment was deleted.