Photos On Social Media Indicate Replica Of Chinese Carrier-Borne AEW&C Aircraft

  • Our Bureau
  • 02:25 PM, January 31, 2017
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Photos On Social Media Indicate Replica Of Chinese Carrier-Borne AEW&C Aircraft
Image released on social media indicate a full-scale model of a Chinese navalised AEW

Photos posted on a social media reveal that the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is seeking to equip a future carrier with a full-scale model of its Chinese navalised airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

Published on the social media platform Weibo on 26 January, the images show the model of Navalised AEW&C aircraft, which resembles Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft, on the country’s land-based carrier replica, near the city of Wuhan, in China's central Hubei Province.

The photographs also indicate that China is eyeing to develop a catapult-assisted take-off but arrested recovery (CATOBAR)-equipped aircraft carrier. The reason for this assumption is that an E-2 Hawkeye-type aircraft would need a catapult to take off from an aircraft carrier and could therefore not operate from a short take-off but arrested recovery (STOBAR) carrier, such as China's only operational carrier, Liaoning.

Expectations that China's third carrier, known as Type 002, will be equipped with catapults were reinforced in early August 2016 when images emerged showing the country's land-based aircraft carrier mock-up undergoing modifications, IHS Jane's 360 reported Monday. Importantly, its ski-jump section had been removed.

Moreover, on 15 September images were released of a Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-15 in flight featuring what appeared to be modifications to its front undercarriage that would enable the aircraft to conduct catapult-assisted take-offs.

The Chinese military has multiple AEW&C programs under way. The development of a carrier-borne AEW&C aircraft may provide the country's future carriers with a broader spectrum of capabilities possibly matching those of US carrier air wings.

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