Modern Ark 60 / MA-60 - Maritime Surveillance
The Modern Ark 60 is a familiar domestic feeder airliner and a controversial model. In the operation of this model, there are excessive noise and excessive glitches, which greatly affects the operation of the airline. The Modern Ark 60 did not achieve market success, the output is not high.
For the Navy, daily control of the sea is a common task, and it is extremely necessary to patrol the aircraft. After all, the efficiency of the patrol aircraft is much higher than that of the ship. However, the naval aviation still lacks sufficient aviation platforms. Apart from a group of high-tech aircraft, the naval air force has only H-6G/M and H-6 oil. The current main patrol aircraft is actually an air-dive-200 anti-submarine patrol aircraft, but the air-submarine-200 has just served, the number is only 7-10, and its price is certainly not cheap due to the installation of a large number of anti-submarine equipment.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy might acquire a type of domestically developed airliner and convert it into a maritime surveillance aircraft, a move that could rapidly boost China's naval surveillance capability at a low cost. The PLA Navy may have the new Modern Ark 60 (MA60) search and guidance aircraft in its arsenal of special-mission aircraft, Weihutang, a column on the military affiliated with China Central Television, reported on 15 May 2019.
Citing a 14 May 2019 notice released on the Chinese military's weapon and equipment procurement website weain.mil.cn, the report said the PLA Navy was procuring electro-optical detection units, communication relay units, navigation units and BeiDou transceivers for the MA60. From the information of public bidding, the Xinzhou 60 search and guidance machine is equipped with photoelectric system, relay communication system, Beidou navigation and positioning system and fiber inertial navigation components. These devices are not high-end, but can be quickly acquired after equipment. Ability to timely discover and report on the sea to improve the overall operational efficiency of the Navy. This also meets the needs of the Navy's daily activities and saves some of the daily operating expenses. The low-end patrol aircraft is the main positioning of the MA 60 search guide, and the MA 60 has developed a dedicated remote sensing aircraft. This pioneering project may have a positive impact on the Navy version of the search guide.
Once customized with the likes of sea surface search radars and electro-optical detection equipment, the MA60 can cover a considerably large sea area and conduct surveillance missions on vessels. Special-mission aircraft plays an important role in high sea surveillance and intelligence gathering, making them a focus of development by navies around the world. China uses special-mission variants of the Y-8 and Y-9 transport aircraft to conduct such missions, but their numbers are limited.
Because the production capacity of Xinzhou 60 is not high due to poor market, the same production capacity has no other project competition, and can quickly meet the needs of the number of platforms. The structure of the MA-60 is derived from the Yun-7, but it has been optimized, the procurement and use costs are not high (relative to military aircraft), and the cabin environment is sufficient to support personnel for detection, patrol and other tasks. The maximum range of the MA-60 is 2,450 km, the largest commercial voyage is 1,100 km, and the maximum full passenger voyage is 1,600 km. It is expected that the activity radius of the MA 60 used as a patrol aircraft may range from 800 km to 1000 km, which can meet the needs of a certain range.
It should be noted that the MA 60 can meet the coverage of the coastline to the sea area of about 800 kilometers, and the experience of the passenger aircraft and the tropical area can also support the application in tropical islands, and may even be deployed overseas. It is expected that the technical difficulty of the project will be small and the progress will be very fast. It will be of great help to supplement the naval's ability to support the offshore activities supported by the island. The main problem is three points.
- First, it is unclear whether the Navy will use the new production aircraft or directly modify it on the old aircraft. If it is the latter, there are currently about 22 MA-60s in the country that are still in service for modification. It is a huge loss of capacity, so it may still be a new machine.
- But this will raise the second question, that is, whether a large number of imported systems on the MA 60 can be used. It is also a problem whether the PW127J turboprop engine produced by Pratt & Whitney on the MA 60, the cockpit system of Collins, etc. will be restricted. Of course, domestically produced equipment may have been better than 10 years ago, and it may be predictable to refit domestically produced equipment.
- The third problem is that the MA-60 has been criticized for a long time as a major problem, and there are a lot of glitches. As a test model of the Chinese aviation industry, the design of the MA-60 has also fallen behind today's Chinese aviation standards. Whether the newly manufactured New Boat 60 can be improved is also a key issue.
Military observers said the possible commissioning of the MA60 could quickly fill the gap and help the PLA Navy cover China's vast territorial waters, especially in the South China Sea and East China Sea. The MA60 uses mature technologies and has a high cost performance, and its maintenance is likely less complicated than designated warplanes, making it more suitable on island bases. Although its range, endurance and surveillance capability might not be as good as those of the Y-8-based special-mission aircraft, they can complement each other.
Developed by Xi'an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company Ltd under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the twin turboprop MA60 was designed to be a regional airliner that uses advanced but mature technologies. Since 2005, more than 100 MA60 regional airliners have been sold to countries along the routes of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, including Laos, Cambodia, Nepal and Zimbabwe, according to State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.
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