China And The Illegal Conversion That Does Not Exist


Date:2010-05-24 Source:strategypage By:globalmil Viewed:

May 23, 2010: A photo of a Chinese Air Force Boeing 737, equipped as a reconnaissance aircraft, recently appeared on a Chinese blog. Such a conversion has been rumored for over a year. This particular use of the 737 is illegal, as China gets the 737 from American manufacturers with the understanding that they will not be converted to military use. But Chinese air force officials have concluded that, for AWACS and maritime reconnaissance work, the 54 ton propeller driven Y8 (which is based on the Russian An-12) and Y-7, and 157 ton IL-76  jet, are not reliable enough, and more expensive to maintain, than the twin engine, 79 ton, Boeing 737-800. Chinese airlines (some of them controlled by the Chinese Air Force) have been using the 737-800 since 1999 (a year after this model entered service).


Currently, China is equipping its 21 ton, twin engine, Y-7 transport with a phased array radar similar to that used on the larger KJ200 AWACS. The Y-7 is a Chinese copy of the Russian An-24. The Y-7 AWACS would be similar to the U.S. 23 ton E-2 that operates off carriers. But China still has problems producing a reliable and effective large radar aircraft.

现在,中国正在它的21吨、双发动机运-7运输机上装备相控阵雷达与在较大KJ200 AWACS(基于运-8机身)上使用的类似。运-7是俄国安-24的中国副本。运-7 AWACS与美国23吨的E-2航母舰载型类似。但是中国仍然在生产一架可靠和有效大型雷达飞机上存在问题。

Four years ago, the Chinese Air Force realized it was not happy with its first four IL-76 AWACS (A-50s from Russia, converted to use Chinese KJ2000 radar systems). This led to a smaller system carried in the Chinese made Y8 aircraft (as the KJ200). Eventually, the Chinese began outfitting a Boeing 737-800 airliner as an AWACS aircraft. There may be as many as three of the 737 AWACS in service already. These work much better. The Y-7 is thought to be a version that could operate off China's coming fleet of aircraft carriers. But the Y-7 is also cheaper, and better suited for equipping more air force units with AWACS capability.

在四年以前,中国空军对它最初的四架IL-76 AWACS(来自俄罗斯的A-50,改装为使用中国KJ2000雷达系统)感到不满意。这导致一个较小的系统在中国制造的运-8飞机上携带(称为KJ200)。最后,中国开始配备一架波音737-800客机当作一架AWACS飞机。可能多达三架737 AWACS已经服役。这些工作上很大程度上提高了。运-7被设想是一种可以在中国将来的航空母舰编队上操作的版本。但是运-7也是比较便宜和更适宜装备使更多的空军单位具有AWACS能力。

The KJ200 entered service two years ago, and export versions sell for about $145 million each. China has had to develop its own phased array radar for it. The Y8 based KJ200 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.


There are several Western adaptations of the 737 to be military radar aircraft. This includes the U.S. Navy P-8A, a maritime reconnaissance aircraft. This is not supposed to include Chinese conversions. When China is confronted about their militarized 737s, they will most likely deny it all, and dare their accusers to do something about it. That approach has worked so far.


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