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Kongjing-200 (KJ-200) Y-8W Cub / High New 5

The Shaanxi KJ-200/Y-8W, which uses a "balance beam" AESA radar very similar in configuration to the Swedish Ericsson PS-890 radar. The KJ-200 aircraft, like the Y-8AEW, is based on the military transport aircraft Y-8 (licensed version of the military transport aircraft an-12). The aircraft (nick-named "Balance Beam" in the West), is equipped with Ericsson Erieye AESA type electronically steered phased array radar, with detection range of 300 to 450 km.

China started work on a tactical AWACS aircraft codenamed 'Project No. 5' or Gaoxin 5 ('High New 5') in the late 1990s. Work on the draft "Gaoxin 5" was launched in 2000. The first prototype aircraft, powered by a turboprop Y-8F200, made its first flight in November 2001. The KJ-200 early-warning aircraft's development has broken the early-warning aircraft key technologies blockadeThe Development organizations achieved break-throughs in the overall aerodynamic configuration and the power unit integration design and on many key technologies.

The second prototype aircraft KJ-200 (based on Y-8F600) took off in January 2005 and June 2006, crashed. On 03 June 2006 the Chinese government made an unusual announcement that a "military transport plane" had crashed in east China's Anhui province. The next day, Chinese President Hu Jintao expressed deep condolences over the death of 40 people in the crash. From Chinese sources, it was discovered that the "transport plane" was probably an AEW (Airborne Early Warning) plane based on Y-8 transport plane airframe. The crash of the PLAAF KJ-200 during a test flight in June 2006 that killed all 40 people on board set back the Chinese AWACS program since the victims were key technical staff in designing and testing the KJ-200. Despite the mishap, China has continued to develop AWACS aircraft for operational use.

Safety issues of the Chinese military modernization of the KJ-200 were brought to the Ukrainian Antonov aviation Design Bureau. In the process of modernization was replaced with a system to prevent icing and crew equipment early warning on emergency situations on board an aircraft. It is reported that measures have improved the reliability of the aircraft. In 2008 pictures of the Y-8 early-warning aircraft began to appear massively, one after another, on many domestic media. Pictures of the KJ-200 AEW Aircraft flying above Beijing for future air parade have displayed that Chinese Air Force has slightly improved the aerodynamic configuration of the tail control surfaces. The comparision of the pictures distinguished the newly-found vertical tails separately added on horizontal tail. Perhaps this improvement can provide stronger flight stability after the KJ-200 crash accident on 03 June 2006.

The Y-8W operates at a lower altitude than the KJ-2000, but has a potential 300km detection range. While the larger, more advanced" KJ-2000 is envisioned to conduct long-range, comprehensive aerial patrolling and control roles, the smaller KJ-200/Y-8 airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft offers "a less expensive platform for tactical airborne early warning and electronic intelligence missions. In the scheme of Chinese strategy, KJ-2000, with a much more powerful electronic equipment, will deal with information and have direct control over air support links. This "dual" patrolling the airspace would further improve detection range and combat sustainability throughout China's air radar system.

As planned, the plane turbine engines have the Canadian-built Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150B propeller. Other systems include modern avionics, including navigation systems from Honeywell. In addition the aircraft receives special containers for equipment at the top of the wing, tail and nose of the fuselage.




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