In attempting to broaden its Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) capabilities, the Chinese Air Force adopted its Shaanxi Y-8 series for the role. The Y-8 was originally introduced in 1974 and based on the Soviet Antonoc An-12 military/civilian hauler. Production yielded over 100 aircraft since and has led to the newer Shaanxi Y-9 series. With this proven foundation, the KJ-200 line was developed through proper modification based on its intended over-battlefield role. The KJ-200 is said to maintain about 20% commonality with the original Y-8 design.
Despite this the KJ-200 retains much of the form and function of the Y-8: high-mounted monoplane wings, single-vertical tail fin, tricycle undercarriage and four turboprop engine layout. The key addition externally is the radar system installed dorsally along the fuselage spine at midships, suspended by a collection of struts. Various other, smaller, protrusion have also been added to conform with the role. Internally there are a slew of support systems and several operator stations to manage the radar's function as well as all other mission pertinent systems. A blister is noted under the nose and a small extension has been added to the nose cone proper. The radar system is of an AESA ("Active Electronically Scanned Array") design. The cockpit is of an all-glass approach (incorporating some Western electronics into the mix) for its two pilots seated side-by-side. Engines are thought to be copies of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150B, turboprops driving six-bladed propellers along large spinners.
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