In the 50-60s aviation The United States and the Kuomintang of Taiwan repeatedly violated the air border of China. Chinese fighters repeatedly climbed to intercept violators. There was a real air war over the Taiwan Strait.
In this situation, China desperately needed a long-range radar aircraft (DRLO), which could detect intruders entering the airspace of the country, taking advantage of the presence of high mountain ranges on the southeastern coast of China, which interfered with the operation of ground-based radar stations.
In the middle of the 60-x in the USSR, the DRLO Tu-126 aircraft equipped with a powerful Liana radar with a rotating mushroom antenna radome located on the top of the fuselage was launched into mass production. At the time, it was a revolutionary technical solution that allows for a circular view regardless of the position of the aircraft relative to the observed target. Subsequently, this antenna location was implemented on other DRLO aircraft.
DRLO Tu-126 aircraft
The Tu-126 was created on the basis of the Tu-114 airliner, its "ancestor", in turn, was the strategic bomber Tu-95, numerous modifications of which for a long time became the basis of long-range aviation of the USSR.
Naturally, with the relations between the Soviet Union and China that escalated in 60-e, there was no question of supplying Tu-114 to China, and even more so Tu-95.
As a result, Chinese experts decided to build their “flying radar” on the basis of the Tu-4 long-range bomber, which, in turn, was copied from the B-29 American “Super Fortress” bomber.
In the 1953 year, the 25 Tu-4 aircraft were transferred to the PRC, where they were operated before the 90-s, having survived much the same aircraft in the USSR and the USA.
Radar with an antenna diameter of 7 m and a mass of 5 t mounted on the fuselage of the aircraft. The power of four piston engines for an aircraft with a large antenna, which increased the aerodynamic drag by 30%, was not enough. It was decided to equip the aircraft with powerful turboprop engines Ivchenko AI-20K.
AI-20 engines were used in the PRC on military transport aircraft Y-8, which was a licensed copy of the Soviet An-12. Mastering the mass production of An-12 in China began immediately before breaking off relations with the USSR. In parallel with the release of the aircraft in China, the production of AI-20 engines, which received the Chinese designation WJ6, as well as propellers, was mastered.
New engines had a great length and stretched forward on the 2,3 m, which affected the stability of the aircraft and its handling. Engineers solved this problem by increasing the area of the horizontal stabilizer on 2 square. m and span on 400 mm. Chinese engineers completely reworked the aircraft's bomb bay to accommodate radar operators and avionics.
10 June 1971, the prototype of the DRLO aircraft, designated KJ-1, went to flight tests.
The first Chinese aircraft ARLO KJ-1
The aircraft was built in the shortest possible time. The Chinese have spent the entire 1 year and 7 months to create a prototype of the DRLO aircraft. The screws of the former piston engines rotated to the right (all the Tu-4 aerodynamics were designed for such a moment of work of the power plant), the new TVD had left-hand rotation screws. There was a heeling moment, and the Chinese engineers decided to equip the aircraft with take-off rocket boosters to neutralize the unwanted yaw of the aircraft. There was also a vibration caused by the impact of the antenna on the keel of the aircraft, as a result of which the aircraft was so violently shaken in the air that the crew was very exhausting during the flight. However, this problem was also solved soon.
During the test flight KJ-1 flew a few hundred hours. It was found that the radar could detect a target such as an H-6 bomber (Tu-16) at a distance of 300-350 km, transport planes at a distance of 250 km. In one of the experiments, the surface target was detected at a distance of 300 km. But China’s lag in the radio element base did not allow at that time to create a truly efficient DRLO aircraft with satisfactory reliability characteristics of the radar equipment and crew protection from microwave radiation.
Currently, the first Chinese aircraft AWAC KJ-1 is in the Beijing Aviation Museum
The next time in the People's Republic of China they returned to the subject of creating an ARLO aircraft at the end of the 80. More than 15 years have passed since the beginning of work in this direction until the practical implementation of healthy samples of radar stations.
Work on long-range radar detection aircraft is concentrated at the CETC Corporation's 38 Research Institute, located in Hefei City. This research institute is a major center for the development of electronics and radar technology leading development in the interests of the armed forces.
In 1998, the Y-8J (AEW) naval patrol aircraft made its first flight, focusing on the tasks of early warning radar. It was created on the basis of the Y-8С serial transport aircraft, and, unlike its predecessor, its glazed nose was replaced with a radome radome.
Marine patrol aircraft Y-8J
The aircraft is mainly designed to control the maritime situation. At the same time, it can track 32 sea surface targets, including even such as a submarine periscope. In Chinese sources it was reported that there are opportunities for detecting air targets and targeting fighters.
Radar aircraft Y-8J created on the basis of the British radar Skymaster. Six to eight such systems were sold to the PRC by the British company Racal under a contract valued at 66 million.
Skymaster radar is a pulse-Doppler radar operating in the I-band. It has a target detection range of 5 square. m 85 km in the review mode of the lower hemisphere, 110 km top and 230 km surface target.
Totally aware of the use of four Y-8J aircraft. Apparently, they are a temporary solution for the PLA Navy.
Due to the complexity of creating a full-fledged complex of equipment for an ARLO aircraft and the lack of practical experience and a suitable platform, the PRC leadership decided to play it safe and involve foreign developers to this topic.
As a result of negotiations held in Russia, Israel and the People’s Republic of China in 1997, a contract was concluded for the joint development, construction, and subsequent delivery of airborne early warning and control systems to China. It was assumed that the Russian TANTK them. Gm Beriev will create on the basis of the serial A-50 aircraft for installation on it of an Israeli-made radio engineering complex with the EL / M-205 “Falcon” radar (PHALCON). The new radio engineering complex (RTC) was intended for radar detection of enemy aircraft, control of the airspace, and also for control of its combat aircraft. In addition, the Chinese DRLO aircraft was supposed to be equipped with radio intelligence equipment capable of intercepting radio communications and monitoring the radio-electronic situation in the combat area.
The basis of the complex was a multifunctional pulse-Doppler radar EL / M-205 developed by the Israeli company Elta. It consists of three active phased antenna arrays, 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). According to the developers of the station, the rather low carrier frequency of the decimeter-band radar (1,2-1,4 GHz), in combination with high-speed computing equipment and special noise reduction devices, provides the potential for detecting cruise missiles and airplanes developed using stealth technology.
For two years from 1997 to 1999, the year in Taganrog, there was a re-equipment of one of the serial A-50 from the Russian Air Force with a tail number 44. After that, the plane flew to Israel to install the Falcon radio engineering complex. The works were generally completed by July 2000. For the PLA Air Force, a total of four aircraft were to be delivered.
But under the strongest pressure of the United States, Israel had to suspend the execution of the contract in the summer of 2000, and subsequently officially inform the Chinese authorities of its refusal to participate in the project. Radio complex was dismantled from the aircraft, and he returned to China. After leaving the program of Israel, the PRC leadership decided to continue work on the program independently, equipping the aircraft it received with a radio engineering complex with AFAR, means of communication and data transmission of national development. Since China did not have any other suitable for the role of the carrier of the DRLO radio engineering complex, it was decided to build the subsequent production radar patrol aircraft on the basis of a part of the Il-90MD transport set in China for the 76-s.
His first flight of the aircraft, which received the designation KJ-2000 ("Kun Jing", can be translated as "Heavenly Eye"), made in November 2003 of the year. Just one year after the start of flight tests of the first experienced KJ-2000, the plant in Xi'an began manufacturing serial DRLO complexes.
At the end of 2007, four serial DRLO KJ-2000 aircraft were officially put into service. Reliable data on the characteristics of the radio complex in open sources is not available. It is known that the flight crew of the KJ-2000 consists of five people and 10-15 operators. The aircraft can patrol at altitudes of 5-10 km. The maximum flight distance is 5000 km, the flight duration is 7 h 40 min. Externally, the serial KJ-2000 differ little from the prototype, however, the absence of a rod for refueling in the air is striking.
Satellite image Google earth: airplanes AWAC KJ-2000
The adoption of the KJ-2000 aircraft undoubtedly made it possible to significantly increase the capabilities of the PLA Air Force for detecting air targets, including low-flying and subtle. As for the prospects, one detachment of DRLO airplanes consisting of five (including the prototype) KJ-2000 is clearly not enough for China. It is likely that the next aircraft of this class will be built on the basis of IL-76 aircraft purchased in Russia. In 2011, a contract was entered into under which in 2013-2015. will be delivered ten IL-76TD from the presence of the Russian Air Force. In addition, China is developing its own heavy transporter Y-20.
Chinese military transport aircraft Y-20
26 January 2013, the Chinese media reported that the first prototype of a heavy Y-20 military transport aircraft took off from the airfield of the XAC aircraft building company, located in Yanlan.
The next Chinese AWACS aircraft to take off for the first time in 2001 was the KJ-200 (Y-8W). The Y-8 F-200 military transport aircraft became the platform for it. The aircraft is equipped with a radar similar to the Swedish Ericsson Erieye AESA with a target detection range of 300 to 450 km. The new aircraft are powered by Pratt & Whitney turboprop engines and feature new highly efficient six-bladed JL-4 propellers, which have increased flight range and reduced noise levels.
It is worth noting that the Chinese engineers, after they managed to solve problems related to electromagnetic compatibility, cooling equipment and radiation protection on an aircraft KJ-2000, successfully applied the experience to create later models.
The first serial KJ-200 took off 14 on January 2005 of the year. In June 2006, he was lost in a crash. At the same time, testers and development engineers of the radio-technical complex were among the dead, which, according to experts, complicated the implementation of the program for the creation of Chinese DRLO complexes. Nevertheless, the Chinese specialists managed to complete the KJ-200 tests in a fairly short time, and complexes of this type began to enter into service with the PLA Air Force.
According to foreign experts, at least six aircraft are currently in service.
Satellite image Google Earth: airplanes AWAC KJ-200
The development of the KJ-200 was the ZDK-03 Karakoram Eagle, created on the order of the Pakistan Air Force. In 2011, China handed over to Pakistan the first long-range radar detection aircraft.
ZDK-03 Karakoram Eagle
The aircraft is built on the basis of the transport aircraft Y-8F-400. Unlike the KJ-200, a mushroom-shaped antenna, more familiar to DRLO planes, is installed on a Pakistani aircraft. According to the Pakistani military, such an arrangement of the RTK antenna system in a “classic” rotating disc fairing over the fuselage more meets the requirements of the Pakistani Air Force.
Three ZDK-03 airplanes delivered to Pakistan were the first Chinese ARLO complexes to be exported. Production of all key components of the radar complex, including AFAR receiving and transmitting modules, is localized in China. Processors used for high-speed data processing are also developed and manufactured in the PRC.
Satellite image of Google earth: aircraft ARLO ZDK-03 at the airport Masrour
According to experts, the DRLO ZDK-03 aircraft is close in its capabilities to the American deck-based E-2C “Hokai” aircraft. A permanent aerodrome based on ZDK-03 in Pakistan has defined an airfield Masrour in the vicinity of Karachi.
In 2011, there were reports about the development in China of a prototype of the DRLO plane of deck-based aircraft. Moreover, the prototypes were built in two versions, significantly different from each other by the layout of the RTK antenna.
The base model for the new DRLO aircraft that received the designation JZY-01 was the Y-7 transport, which, in turn, is a copy of the An-26.
On the first modification of the aircraft JZY-01, the radar antenna was made similar to KJ-200
The second modification, the tests of which, apparently, progressed further, had a classical antenna in a mushroom fairing. However, according to some experts, it was made not rotating, but motionless, and inside it, like on a larger Chinese DRLO KJ-2000 aircraft, a triangle accommodates three active phased antenna arrays, thereby providing a circular view.
Major changes compared with the original Y-7 has undergone the power plant. The standard WJ-5A turboprop (development of the Soviet AI-24) is likely to be replaced by more powerful WJ-6C engines with six-blade JL-4 propellers — such as those used on the new Y-9 Chinese military transport aircraft and the DRLO airplanes KJ-200 and ZDK-03.
At the same time, the aircraft does not have a landing hook necessary for any deck aircraft. In addition, the Chinese prototype does not have a specially modified landing gear, characteristic of deck aircraft. On the wings there is no folding mechanism. The aircraft depicted in the photographs is most likely the prototype for testing the aerodynamic characteristics of the deck flying radar.
Satellite image of Google Earth: JZY-01 DRLO aircraft at Xian factory airfield
And the very possibility of basing the carrier-based aircraft built on the An-26 base on the not too large Chinese aircraft carrier Liaonin (in the past life of the Varyag) with a displacement of 60000 is doubtful. The scope of work to change the design of the JZY-01 will be no less than when developing a new special deck-based aircraft. Currently, the aircraft with a round antenna RTK is located at the factory airfield in Xi'an.
In the PRC, the creation of new modifications of DRLO planes with higher radar characteristics continues. The Chinese industry in the field of aviation radar has made a breakthrough from the radar with mechanical scanning to systems with active phased antenna array. Specialists of CETC Corporation have created a three-coordinate early warning radar with AFAR, i.e. radar providing electronic scanning in height and azimuth.
In the middle of 2014, there were reports of the adoption of a new version of the "medium aircraft" of AWACS with the KJ-500 index based on the Y-8F-400 transporter. Unlike the KJ-200 version with a log-like radar, the new aircraft has a circular radar antenna on the mast.
KJ-500 is similar to the ZDK-03, which were supplied by the Pakistan Air Force, but equipped with a new radar, a distinctive feature of which is the presence of a "blister" on the top of the antenna.
Satellite image of Google Earth: airplanes DRLO KJ-500 at the airport Hanzhong
The Chinese industry has already produced several aircraft of this type, which entered the combat part of the PLA Air Force. Currently, these machines are based on the Hanzhong airfield.
Satellite image of Google Earth: airplanes DRLO KJ-500, JZY-01, KJ-200 at the factory airfield Xi'an
Construction, repair and modernization of all Chinese airplanes DRLO is carried out at the enterprise of the Xian Aviation Industrial Corporation (located in the provincial capital of Shaanxi - Xi'an).
The great achievement of the Chinese radio-electronic industry is the localization of the production of all the components of electronic equipment for DRLO airplanes in the PRC. On-board data processing systems use computers developed and manufactured in China, which increases information security. A number of communication and information systems and software for them are unified for all Chinese DRLO airplanes; this, of course, reduces the cost of production and facilitates maintenance.
Satellite images courtesy of Google Earth.