Role Airborne Early Warning and Control
National origin People's Republic of China
Designed by NRIET (radar)
First flight 2003
People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)
Number built 5
Developed from Ilyushin Il-76 (airframe)
The KJ-2000 development program started after the cancellation of the A-50I deal with Israel and Russia in July 2000, due to strong U.S. pressure and interference regarding the Israeli radar that was to be mounted. China then went on to developing a domestic AWACS and the first aircraft made its maiden flight in 2003. Four KJ-2000 aircraft have been identified so far. Production of new aircraft will likely be delayed, as it depends on the acquisition of more IL-76 airframes from Russia in the future. Currently, the Russian defense exporter Rosoboronexport has imposed a significant price hike on all future IL-76s delivered to China and India despite previous contract. Both countries are currently in negotiation with Russia regarding this matter as of early 2008. Because of the unreliable foreign supplier source, China had developed a backup known as the KJ-200 by installing the entire system on board the Shaanxi Y-8. This aircraft has a similar configuration to that of the KJ-2000 and the platform is characterized by the triple tail configuration (one large and two small).
The KJ-2000 has five flight crew and possibly 10~15 mission crew. The aircraft carries out patrol missions at an altitude of 5,000~10,000m. The maximum flight range of the aircraft is 5,000km and the flight endurance is 7 hours 40 minutes. At a range of 2,000km, the aircraft can remain on patrol for up to 1 hour 25 minutes.
The A-50 airframe, developed and manufactured by the Beriev Aircraft Research and Engineering Complex Joint Stock Company based at Taganrog in the Rostov Region of Russia, was derived from the Ilyushin IL-76 jet transport aircraft, distinguished by the large, non-rotate radome containing the phased-array radar antenna; the solid nose replacing the original ‘glass-in’ nose, and a large number of electronic system antennas on the front section of the fuselage.
The primary radar system housed in the radome is an three-sided electronically steered phased-array (ESA) developed by Nanjing-based 14 institute. Unlike the Russian A-50 or U.S. E-3, which rotate their rotodomes to give a 360 degree coverage, the KJ-2000's radar antenna does not rotate. Instead, three ESA antenna modules are placed in a triangular configuration inside the round radome to provide a 360 degree coverage.
The Chinese-made radar system could be similar in design to the IAI Phalcon, but may not be as capable as the latter. The Phalcon system could track up to 60~100 targets at the same time and guide a dozen fighters in all-weather, day and night operations.