KJ-600, China’s Hawkeye, successfully completes flight test

A US Navy E-2 Hawkeye, Bandersnatch / Shutterstock

The KJ-600, a carrier-based airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft developed by Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation, successfully completed a new flight test, according to the Chinese state media Global Times. Entry into service is expected between 2022 and 2025.

Announced in 2018, the KJ-600 emerged from the failure of the Xian JZY-1, another larger carrier-capable AEW platform project based on the Soviet-designed Antonov An-24. After only two years of development, the KJ-600 carried out its maiden flight in August 2020. 

Not much is known about the aircraft, which bears a striking resemblance to the Hawkeye. It is powered by the WJ-6 turboprop engine, the Chinese version of the Ivchenko AI-20, and should be fitted with an AESA-type (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar.

Sea trials of the KJ-600 are reportedly scheduled for 2021. The AEW aircraft will most likely operate from the Type 003, a new model of aircraft carrier being constructed at Jiangnan shipyard near Shanghai. 

Bigger than its predecessors, it will sport a flat deck and a catapult launch system (CATOBAR), allowing for heavier aircraft to be operated. In comparison, the Shandong and the Liaoning currently sailing for China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are equipped with a ski-jump (Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery) system. The ship could be launched at sea by the end of 2021, with its commission set for 2025. 


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