China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) will be showcasing a number of new platforms at the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, which will be held next week at Zhuhai airbase near Guangdong. They include Chengdu J-10B multirole fighter, the Xi’an H-6K bomber and the Shaanxi KJ-500 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft. A spokesman from the PLAAF has confirmed that the J-20 stealth fighter will also appear, flown by test pilots.
A pair of LRIP J-20s sporting a new two-tone dark gray splinter camouflage have been observed carrying out maneuvers and formation flying over Chengdu Aircraft Corporation’s facilities. The type is in low-rate initial production (LRIP).
Meanwhile, the appearance of the J-10B confirms that the type has entered PLAAF service. The aircraft that is in Zhuhai carries tail serials for the PLAAF’s 2nd Air Division, 5th Regiment based at Guilin, Guangxi. Photos of J-10Bs in PLAAF colors have been appearing since late 2014, but with tail serials either blurred or edited out altogether, precluding identification of their unit.
The J-10B’s differences from the earlier J-10A includes a Diverterless Supersonic Inlet (DSI) for reduced radar cross-section; a longer nose radome possibly housing an improved radar; an electro-optic targeting sensor (IRST); and a new ECM/EW suite; plus other avionics improvements. The J-10B in the static display will have a full range of weapons displayed alongside the aircraft, including air-to-ground precision guided bombs, missiles and associated targeting pods, as well as ECM pods.
The KJ-500 is an AEW platform based on the Shaanxi Y-9 turboprop, which is also now in service with the PLAAF. It has a radar dish fitted atop the fuselage, similar to the PLAAF’s KJ-2000 AEW aircraft based on the Il-76. Chinese state media has said the phased array radar is designed by the No. 38 Research Institute under the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC).
The KJ-500 entered service with the PLAAF in early 2015 and has since reportedly entered service with the PLA Navy’s aviation regiments as well. It is not clear if the KJ-500 will replace or complement the older KJ-200 AEW that is based on the older Y-8 turboprop, which mounts a dorsal balance-beam radar array.
A number of new unmanned aircraft systems will also be at Zhuhai. China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) will showcase the CH-5 Medium-Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV that made its maiden flight in August 2015. CASC says that the CH-5 has a wingspan of 21 meters (69 ft), an mtow of 3.3 metric tons, a payload of one metric ton; and an endurance of up to 40 hours.