13 May 2017

News Story: Satellite image shows Chinese deployment of new aircraft to South China Sea

KJ-500 AEW&C Aircraft
By: Mike Yeo

MELBOURNE, Australia — China has deployed its latest airborne early warning and control aircraft to an air base on the fringes of the disputed South China Sea, according to exclusive satellite imagery obtained by Defense News.

The photo taken March 24 by commercial satellite imagery company DigitalGlobe shows a pair of Shaanxi KJ-500 turboprop AEW&C aircraft with its distinctive radar dish on the ground at Jialaishi Air Base in the northern part of China’s Hainan island. Two other Y-8 aircraft — an older KJ-200 AEW&C aircraft, and the other possibly a Y-8J or Y-8X maritime patrol aircraft — can be seen alongside the KJ-500s. 

KJ-200 AEW&C Aircraft
This is the first time the KJ-500 has been deployed to Hainan, with China having previously rotationally deployed special mission aircraft detachments to the island. These detachments are drawn from two special-mission aircraft regiments of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, based in northern China. The detachments are usually made up of a mixture of KJ-200 AEW&C aircraft with Y-8Js and Y-8Xs, and they tend to operate from Lingshui on the southeastern tip of Hainan. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews