Monday, November 27, 2006

Preparing For an Air Campaign?

China is getting serious about its army and air force training.

And now China is preparing AWACS-type aircraft to be ready by next year:

The Chinese Air Force has been training with its four new IL 76 AWACS (A-50s from Russia, converted to Chinese KJ2000 systems) and smaller KJ200 (carried in the four prop engine Chinese made Y8 aircaft) AWACS. This has been going on for several months at an airbase in eastern China (Jiangsu province.) One of the two KJ200 aircraft crashed last June, during its final test flight.

The KJ2000 was expected to enter service next year. China has had to develop its own phased array radar for it, after being prevented, by the United States, from buying the Israeli Phalcon airborne radar six years ago. The KJ2000 carries a flight crew of five and a mission (AWACS) crew of about a dozen. The aircraft can stay airborne for about seven hours per sortie. The KJ2000 radar has a range of about 300 kilometers, and the computer systems are supposed to be able to handle 5-10 fighters at a time, and keep track of several dozen enemy targets.

Controlling aircraft over Chinese territory can be done from ground-based controllers. Of course, if you intend to wage an aerial campaign 100 miles offshore, aerial command and control would come in handy.

I'm continually amazed that any Taiwanese can sleep at night these days.