Sunday, October 18, 2009

China has a say on AWACS aircrafts

An aircraft Y-9 AWACS will guide the aerial formations in the air show of China’s National Day parade on October 1, 2009. With the Y-9 AWACS to lead the first formation, China is trying to tell the world its message on the exploration of Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS).

The AWACS is an airborne radar system designed to detect aircraft hundreds of miles away. The service ceiling of the Chinese Y-9 AWACS is more than 34,000 feet high. At this altitude, it can detect aircraft from up to 250 miles away and cover an area of more than 120,500 square miles, which is almost equal to 1/3 of European area. In combat, it can distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft and guide missile units and air forces to attack and counter attack.

The radar system on the Y-9 AWACS is called Active Phased Array Radars. It was designed by the Research Institute of Electronics Technology located in Nanjing, China. It is said to be superior to the Israeli IAI/Elta Phalcon radar system and be able to track more targets at a greater range. It is equipped on a airframe of Y-9 transport aircraft, which is a C-130J class transport aircraft produced by Shanxi Aircraft Company in China. It is powered by four Wojiang FWJ-6C turbo engines, and equipped with 6-bladed JL-4 composite propellers.

China’s attemp to have its own AWACS started from early 1970. At the end of last century, China ever tried to buy four IAI/Elta Phalcon radar systems from Israel. In July of 2000, under the pressure of the United States, Israel had to rip off the $1 billion agreement on selling these systems to China. Then China developed out KJ-2000 as its AWACS comprising domestically designed electronics and radars installed on a modified Russian Ilyushin IL-76 airframe. Around 2003, Russia significantly raised price on all future IL-76s to China despite previous contract.

Recently China went through the throny jungles set by US and Russia at last. With its domestic radar system mounted on its home-made Y-9 aircarft fuselage, China can finally have a say in the world regarding AWACS aircrafts.