China tests aircraft can detect stealth fighters

The Chinese KJ-600 early warning aircraft appeared in the sky during a test flight, equipped with radar that can “detect stealth aircraft like the F-35”.

Chinese social media recently circulated a video of a domestic KJ-600 aircraft test-flying, apparently in the city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province, where it is being developed. This is the first time a video of the KJ-600 flying in reality has appeared since it was announced by Chinese media in 2018.

The aircraft appearing in the video is one of six KJ-600 prototypes that have been built with the designation 7103. The aircraft is painted gray, with an arresting hook, a device that helps the aircraft land on a carrier. Fly, placed in a V-shaped cavity near the tail.

Images from another angle show it has three landing gear, four vertical tail fins, and a straight main wing mounted on the upper fuselage. This design is said to improve the aircraft’s aerial command and maritime surveillance capabilities.

Experts say the above images show that the KJ-600 aircraft may be entering the completion stage. Some information at the end of 2023 said that the project has entered an advanced stage, and the KJ-600 aircraft is about to be put into production in limited quantities.

The KJ-600 first took off in August 2020, two years after Chinese media reported on the development program of this aircraft model. It is said to have a length of 18.4 meters a wingspan of 24.4 meters, a suitable size to operate on an aircraft carrier.

The aircraft is equipped with a large, circular, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar on its back. Chinese media claims that this radar technology can help it detect stealth fighters like the US F-22 and F-35.

The KJ-600 is expected to be assigned to the battleship Fujian, China’s newest and most modern aircraft carrier. This warship is equipped with electromagnetic catapults and momentum-arresting cables instead of the old jumper design on the Liaoning and Shandong ships. The main task of the KJ-600 is to help increase the radar range on aircraft carriers, thereby being able to detect flying objects at low altitudes better.

Images of the Fujian aircraft carrier were published on CCTV on January 2. Photo: CCTV

Images of the Fujian aircraft carrier were published on CCTV on January 2. Photo: CCTV

The Chinese military currently operates three models of early warning aircraft, the KJ-2000 series of which is equipped with a turboprop engine, while the KJ-200 and KJ-500 use similar propeller engines. KJ-600. However, these aircraft are designed to deploy from traditional runways instead of aircraft carriers like the KJ-600.

After commissioning the KJ-600, China will become the third country to own a flat-wing early warning aircraft on an aircraft carrier. The remaining two countries, France and the United States, both use the American-made E-2 Hawkeye model.