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China’s New Carrier-Based AWACS Made Its Maiden Flight

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China's New Carrier-Based AWACS Made Its Maiden Flight

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On August 29, 2020, the first prototype of a Chinese carrier-based AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) and control aircraft made its maiden flight at the Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation airfield.

Reportedly, Chinese AWACS use Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology which is more advanced than the technology used in AWACS built by USA and Russia.

To provide context: The radar in the American E-3C and Russian Beriev A-50U carry out 360-degree azimuth scanning by using older technology of mechanically rotating the antenna. On the other hand, in the KJ-2000 there is no rotating antenna.

The Chinese AWACS aircraft has no rotating antenna. The scanning in azimuth and elevation is done electronically. Three flat aerials are mounted in the radome on top of the fuselage in an equilateral triangle. Each aerial electronically scans 120 degrees, thus covering full 360 degrees in azimuth. There are little other details available, but the radar can be expected to have a maximum detection range of 400 km.

The new Chinese carrier-based AWACS and control system is intended to be included in the air group of the in-construction Chinese aircraft carrier – the type 002, which is being built at a shipyard in Shanghai.

The AWACS Aircraft likely refers to the KJ-600. Popular Science reported in July 2017 that China had developed the KJ-600, a carrier-based early warning and control plane that can help fill a critical gap against the US Navy. Built by the Xian Aircraft Corporation, the KJ-600 weighs 25-30 tons and is powered by twin-engine FWJ-6C turboprop engines.

The KJ- 600 is based on the experience gained from the earlier JZY-01 technology demonstrator. Due to its heavy weight and limited engine power, KJ-600 is designed to take off from the aircraft carrier using a catapult only.

The satellite imagery that shows the KJ-600 in the most recent report was identified by Chris Biggers, an expert on the matter.

Military aerospace and maritime expert H. I. Sutton also reviewed the imagery and according to him it shows the KJ-600.

According to Sutton, the KJ-600 strongly resembles the US-made E-2 Hawkeye, but it obviously has a less potent radar.

“The layout is remarkably similar to the U.S. Navy’s E-2 Hawkeye family of aircraft. They are both twin turboprop aircraft with high-mounted long straight wings that can fold for carrier storage. They have a relatively small fuselage just large enough for a crew of 4 to 6. The radar is carried in a large rotodome atop the fuselage. Lastly the tail is split into several smaller vertical stabilizers, like bombers of World War II.

The layout of the two planes is virtually identical, to the point that aircraft recognition may prove a challenge in the future. The Hawkeye is a well proven design that first flew 60 years ago, and is still in service aboard U.S. and French aircraft carriers.”


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Congratulations China.

Ivan Freely

Exciting times ahead for the Chinese Navy. It’ll be a couple of decades before we’ll see a Chinese carrier group roaming the high seas on a regular basis.


Russia is looking like a midget now.

Lone Ranger



It will look great at the rock bottom of the ocean, where it belongs.


If only it mades to it.


Well, Russia? Anything to say about the outdated obsolente imperialist weapon good only to bully tiny countries?


The US navy is still outranged by Russian missiles … nothing has changed.

The US navies strategic threat to China is their ability to control the sea lanes in and out of China essentially blockading China. China understands and fear this simply out of their experience with European powers over the last 250 years.

Unlike the USA China first developed an A2-AD / anti-shipping bubble that can keep the US navy beyond striking distance. Now they’re developing the ability to project power from within that bubble. They have also greatly expanded their ASW capabilities.

It’s pretty obvious what their intentions are. They built up their defensive capabilities over the last couple of decades now they’re building aircraft carriers and airborne special forces to project power. Their plan is to push US forces further away from China.

It’s not so much that US warships wouldn’t be able to operate near China but if they try to interdict traffic and put Chinese shipping at risk their bases across Asia can not only be struck with missiles but with Chinese amphibious / airborne forces.

They still can’t attack a country like Russia or the US homeland …. as soon as those carriers leave China’s A2-AD bubble they’re vulnerable.


Aircraft carriers were made to conteol the sea rutes as you said, not to participate in a total war with a nuclear power. Having them means you are an economic giant. Like USA and China. And China made the missiles first because they are a lot more easy to make than aircraft carriers.


“Having them means you are an economic giant. Like USA and China.”

You mean like an asshole rich kid who gets a BMW for passing their drivers license? Yes they do have a place in dick wagging and aircraft carriers are chick magnets in foreign ports however they also have a secondary role in combined arms warfare.

China made the missiles first because the way to protect yourself from US navy and air force is to be able to have missiles that can strike their carrier groups, air bases and support aircraft outside of their attack radius. The USA has tried to convince japan and South Korea to take US intermediate range missiles deployed in their countries to counter China’s missile superiority but they refused for obvious reasons.

No sense in simply building floating airfields in range of the enemies missiles and aircraft is there when they have superior aviation is there? It makes a lot more sense to build those weapons after the A2-Ad bubble is in place just so they’re more use to you …. other than dick wagging and being chick magnets that is.


China purchased the rusty Ukrainian vessel, than the made those missiles you are talking about, then the finished the carrier. In this order. Because those missiles are not as sofisticated as a carrier. Anyway, USA will not attack mainalnd China with those carriers but will controll the blue. And the chicks. And the economy. Because they are ashole rich with a BMW that you don’t have.


“China purchased the rusty Ukrainian vessel, than the made those missiles you are talking about, then the finished the carrier.’

That’s what’s know as “planning” and in the modern military world where forces and weapons systems have to work together “strategic planning” or a master plan that accounts for all your separate military projects like amphibious assault, air force, A2-Ad, naval operations and brings them all in on time in a coordinated manner.

You don’t just decide to build an aircraft carrier over night. It’s highly specialized shipbuilding and take highly specialized sailors, air men and aircraft to operate an aircraft carrier. They started with a ski slope on dry land … then bought the Ukrainian ski slope carrier for cheap …. now their building CATOBAR carriers and working on the specialized aircraft needed to withstand the force of catapult launches and landings. They’re at least 23 years into the program if you take the 15th party congress of the PRC in 1997 as the date the Chinese aircraft carrier program kicked off.

Now if they waited for one program to be completed …. say A2-AD …. before starting their carrier program the missiles they deployed would be obsolete before their carriers were ready to be deployed.

Doesn’t it make more sense to have your defence programs to run concurrently so all your modern weapons are deployed ready for action on the day you tell the USA to fuck off?


You do what you can first. The missiles are easier to do than the carrier. It’s that simple.

Ivan Freely

And the missiles are much cheaper than carriers.

Lone Ranger

What weapon?

Damien C

Thie AESA radar is available to many military aircraft this is not something new. The Su 57 has AESA radar as do a few of the Su 35 The rest of the Su 35 Su30sm Su27 Su25 fleet use PESA which are not mechanical. PESA can scan a larger area quicker than AESA though not with the same accuracy

The future production Ohotniks drones are also heavily touted as candidates for the AESA

Just saying


Not true…you are “just saying ” wrong.

SU-57 and MIG-35 are only Russian fighter jets having AESA radar.at the moment. SU-35 has powerful hybrid PESA 400km range radar “Irbis” that is just as good if not better as many AESA. It is not straight forward logic as many think.

Damien C

Are you just a teenage empty-headed troll that comes on this site to fight with people and type crap? What part of my comment was wrong?

Perhaps you should read a comment in full before wetting your pants in future, also the PESA is not as acurate as the AESA they fufill different roles for tactical reasons speed versus accuracy

You’re a clown “just saying”


“just saying”that Are you blind or you have cognitive problems or you are plain ignorant “clown”?!! Read again please!

SU-35 does NOT have AESA radar! Only MIG-35 and SU-57 have AESA radars!


YOU HAVE EDITED AND DELETED YOUR TEXT where you say that SU-35 has AESA radar and have added new first sentence! To make look my comment without any grounds for complaint! That is very dishonest thing to do of the lowest kind !

You are crook and liar!

Damien C

I can clearly see why so many people have blocked you on this site. Every time you involve yourself in a discussion it is combative and generally you highlight your lack of knowlede on everything 4 inches beyond your zipper.

I most certainly am not an expert on Russian military jets and have never claimed to be such, but i have the capacity to read information supplied by people who are, where you seem to be devoid of this ability altogether.

You stated PESA was superior to AESA this is complete and utter horse manure! AESA is more accurate than PESA they are used in different vehicles for tactical or logistic reasons. If PESA was better than AESA at present they wouldn’t be putting AESA in their most advanced weapons systems now would they you Gombeen

I’m currently searching for the online article which had the tactical reasons why a few (and i stated a few and that the rest of the Su35 fleet had PESA perhaps you didn’t read that) of the Su35 ended up with an AESA system and will link it when i find it

Don’t bother replying I find you juvenile and tiresome aside from being combative and continually wrong on most threads you comment on.

Putin Apologist

The differences between Western and Russian military combat aircraft reflects a difference in aerial war-fighting philosophy, and possibly driven by budgetary constraints in the West. Western air forces tend to favor multi-role combat aircraft while Russians prefer single-role, highly specialized, combat aircraft.

As for contemporary Russian combat aircraft…

The MIG-31 was designed purely as an interceptor. It has no analog in the West.

The MiG-29, Su-27 and Su-35 are all air-to-air defense fighters, with very limited ground attack capabilities.

The Su-30 and MiG-35 are multi-role aircraft, as is the Su-57. But it would have to be a high-valued ground or sea target to send an Su-57 to destroy it.

The Su-24, Su-25 and Su-34 are all ground and sea attack aircraft. The Su-34 is a highly maneuverable that is said to be capable of air-to-air combat but its radar is not designed for such a role.

The Yak-130 is a jet trainer that can also be used as a light attack aircraft.

The Tu-95, Tu-22M and the Tu-160 are long range bombers.

I explained the differences between PESA and AESA radars above, if you’re interested. The short answer; the AESA radar is better suited for a multi-role aircraft while the PESA radar is the preferred radar for a single-role aircraft.


So why didn’t you offer link from the start?

SU-35 does not have “AESA” radar. You can not prove me wrong because what did you say was simply not true officially . End of story ! Yeah pleas do give us “link” because officially SU-35 does not have it. Every source on SU-35 will confirm that.

That was the point over which we did not agree yet you keep obfuscating …. I don’t care at all what you think of my comments or about me.


SU-35 doesn’t have an AESA radar but i have read that it’s a kind of hybrid using PESA/AESA technology. I don’t know how that would work or if it’s only marketing.


just talk to Putin Apologist or read his comment he kind of understand that tech side of the radars (or pretend to…) I am not tech savvy and I was scolded by him for using that term “hybrid” even though I saw it somewhere on specialized site (like you probably )


Yes as i said i do not understand how a radar can be a hybrid between PESA/AESA since it could only be one or the other.

It comes down to the antennas either only a receiver or a transmitter and/or receiver. A PESA might work just as good or better for some use cases but has some weight and power differences to AESA, but there are also many differences between different AESA radars both in the antennas and software.

That’s why i added marketing, you should never underestimate the power of marketing.

Putin Apologist

“SU-35 has powerful hybrid PESA ….that is just as good if not better as many AESA.”

Your comment makes no sense, and here is why:

Both the PESA and the AESA are electronically (as opposed to mechanical) scanning radars. The primary difference between the two; the PESA radar uses a single frequency whereas a AESA can use multiple frequencies simultaneously.

So which is better?

The answer is neither is really better than the other as the two were designed to fulfill two different and distinct purposes.

The first combat aircraft to have a PESA was the Russian MiG-31 while the first to have a AESA was the Japanese F-2. The MiG-31 was designed as a single role combat aircraft, to hunt for, and to destroy other aircraft and missiles in the air. While the F-2 was designed as a multi-role combat aircraft, to hurt for air targets but also, and do it simultaneously, to hunt for ships ocean’s surface.

So why does an Su-35 have a PESA while the while the MiG-35 and Su-57 both have a AESA radars? The Su-37 was designed primarily for air-to-air combat while the MiG-35 and Su-57 were both designed from the get-go to be multi-role combat aircraft. That’s is not the say the Su-37 cannot drop bombs on ground targets, it can, but it cannot use its radar to hunt for ground targets like the other two, the 35 and 57.

If you spent a lot more time imputing and a lot less time outputting (cutting and pasting from Wikipedia) you might actually know something.


There are so many things in which I could teach many people thing or two. I have learned about airplanes ever since I was kid and I have quite lot general basic qnowledge

I do not pretend to be military expert ever but at least I know the basics for average person … I would never get on my high horse if he didn’t start with the bullshit that SU-35 has AESA radar and pretending to know lot on Russian airplanes.

As for word “hybrid” it is true that it was picked up from internet sources (maybe even Wikipedia or some defense forum) I am no expert in electronics or radars and I never go that far into technical side. So in those things I do relay on those sources.

Basically I knew already absolutely everything you were explaining to me now. Things I do not know is technical side of the radars. I simply choose not to go that far.


“The Su 57 has AESA radar as do a few of the Su 35″


How do one know that KJ-600 radar is obviously less potent than E-2 Hawkeye? If it has an AESA radar with a range of range 400km then it’s a potent radar. I do think Chinese AEW&C lags a bit behind western AEW&C but this is still a modern creation. The SAAB Globaleye 6000 is one of the worlds most modern AEW&C with a GaN based AESA radar but it still only has a line of sight of 450km since the earth isn’t flat even if the radar it self has a range of 550km, so 400km range is rather impressive. What i do wonder is its operating time, how long it can be in the air and what’s turnaround time it has, the Globaleye 6000 isn’t carrier based but it can stay in the air for more than 11hours.


what are you on selling Swede radar mission?


I only used one of the most modern AEW&C as a reference that uses the latest GaN technology. GaN is a revolution for AESA radars and the latest and greatest technology there is.


I know Gallium Nitrate


Then you also know that SAAB is the leading company in the development of GaN based radars and pioneered the technology. I only referred to the most modern AEW&C AESA radar there is in the west since it’s the most modern Chinese AEW&C AESA i thought it was a fair comparison.


I have told you I am not tech savvy person. I am wrong person to talk these things with.

You re boring the living daylight out of me with your SAAB publicity and radar details.

cechas vodobenikov

I am not qualified to compare ; there are many reports that China is adept at reverse engineering and improvements in many military technologies

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