China’s KJ-600 carrier based airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft performed its first flight on August 28th, making the country the only one other than the United States to have successfully developed such a platform.
The aircraft resembles the American E-2 Hawkeye platform which deploys from U.S. Navy supercarriers, and from the French medium carrier Charles De Gaulle, and is expected to provide the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s carrier air wings with at least a peer level of situational awareness to its American counterparts.
Chinese shipyards are currently constructing two Type 002 Class supercarriers, which will be the first outside the United States to integrate electromagnetic catapult launch systems allowing them to deploy heavier aircraft including fighters with more fuel and munitions as well as large AEW aircraft.
It is expected that the KJ-600 will continue flight testing until the first Type 002 Class ship begins sea trials, after which it will be integrated into its air wing. The KJ-600 is far from China's first AEW aircraft, with four preceding classes currently in service, but it is the first designed for carrier operations and integrates features such as folding wings and a lighter airframe optimised for takeoffs from short runways. (end of excerpt)
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