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China Unveils New AWACS

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The Chinese military has offered a glimpse of its new airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft. The KJ-500 is an adaptation of the Shanxi Y-9 cargo plane, a four-engine turboprop with a configuration similar to that of the C-130 Hercules. The speculation in the Chinese media is that the KJ-500 is the next generation early warning aircraft for the People's Liberation Army Air Force and will replace the KJ-2000 Balance Beam. 

The KJ-500 features a fixed radome with three radar antennas that provide full radar coverage in flight. The radar system is called an Active Phased Array Radar and is the same system used on the Balance Beam. Before it developed the KJ-500, the Chinese manufacturers used a Y-9 as the basis of an early warning aircraft for sale to Pakistan but it used an older style radar system on the export aircraft.

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